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Jesus’ Compassionate Prayer

Lent 2022

Read John 17:1-26

1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

How does our Lord face the hour of tribulation – the final moments before arrest and trial, mere hours from crucifixion and death? With prayer. In doing so, he demonstrates how we may rely on the Father in our own trials. “Christ not only speaks about endurance of evil but puts himself forward as an example. After his admonition that ‘in the world you would have tribulation,’ he himself turns to prayer in order to teach us that in our testing we are to leave everything behind and flee to God. He had shaken their souls in his admonition but raised them up again by this prayer.”1

What is on the heart of our Lord as he turns to the Father in prayer? He prays for those who belong to the Father because of his testimony and the truth of his sanctifying word. In essence, Jesus says:

Father keep my disciples in your name. Join them to us as partakers of your grace.

Father, give them joy, not any joy, but my joy, the joy that comes because of the life and salvation I give.

Father, leave them in the world, as bad as the world can be at times, but cover them with your hand of protection, preserving them from Satan.

Father, continue to be at work in them, purifying and consecrating them through your word.

Father, I pray this not just for these disciples, but all who are yet to believe in me because of their testimony.

The deep compassion of Christ is expressed in this prayer. It shows us the heart, mind, and grace of our Lord which led to that night in the garden and unfolded the events that would take place in the coming hours. It also gives us an example of how to face our own difficulties of life. It helps to shape our hearts and prayers to include not just the removal of difficulties from our lives, but these very concerns that our Lord himself held as the highest priority.

Prayer: Father, keep me in the true faith. Strengthen my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who find themselves persecuted for their faith. Guide my days and deeds that, in all I say and do, others would come to know and believe that you love them and sent your Son for them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

1 Quote by Chrysostom, cited in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture; New Testament, volume IVb p. 227.

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