Christ's Relation to His Disciples - John 17:1-13

Expositions by H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Memory Verse — Philippians 17:3

Jesus' prayer for His disciples just before He left them is full of blessing for the student of God's Word. It is this prayer which comes before us in the study of John 17. In His prayer Jesus showed His love for His children, and His care for them. As we read it we are taken into the very secrets of His heart, and learn with what tender love He loves us. We can read here the yearnings of His heart for us, and His solicitude for our fellowship with Him. And we may read here His purpose to do everything in His power to maintain that fellowship, and to keep us victorious in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation. In the study of this prayer we find that Jesus showed just what His relation to believers is, and what blessings come to us through Him. The portion of the chapter which we are to study particularly shows us five wonderful truths. Some of them we have already faced in our study of the preceding chapters, but it is a principle in God's Word that He repeats important truths either to fix them in our minds, and lives, or else to add some detail which He has not given before. Surely the relation of Jesus to His children is the most important thing in all God's Word, so it should not surprise us if we find the truths concerning this relation are repeated again and again.


John 17:1-5

God's purpose in giving Jesus for us was that He might give us eternal life, so the first thing indicated here which the believer has in Jesus is life. This truth stands out prominently everywhere in the pages of God's Word. In this final prayer before the crucifixion Jesus refers to it showing how close it is to the heart of God. He speaks of several vital truths concerning the life which we have in Him. He says that the Son gives life to those who are given Him of the Father. This reminds us that eternal life is a gift and not to be obtained by good works. This truth is further impressed on our minds by His statement that eternal life comes through knowing Himself. There is life in no other than Jesus. And he that is a stranger to Him has no part in His life. To be saved men must believe in Him. John 3:i4-'6; I Jon- 5:12; Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9.

We may he familiar with these facts, and still not understand that glory comes to God through the life which He gives to us. That God is glorified in the salvation of lost souls is clearly taught in His Word. It is said that Edward, prince of Wales, was one day in a certain city in England where there was a demonstration going on in his honor. During the celebration a team of horses became frightened and ran away. Directly in their path was a little child, and she was in danger of being injured, if not killed. The prince, seeing her danger, leaped forward and snatched the little one away to safety. When those people saw that their prince was willing to risk his life to save that of a little child they went wild and cheered him to the echo. If that simple act of bravery brought such homage to an earthly prince, how much more shall glory be given to Him Who gave His life a sacrifice in order that we might live. And that is what is going to be done. Jesus will be glorified throughout eternity for His grace in saving us. Phil. 2:5-11; Eph. 1:6, 12; Eph. 2:7.


John 17:6-8

A second truth was expressed in Jesus' prayer. This truth was that He revealed God to men. We have considered this truth before in our study of the Gospel of John. And here we find Jesus reviewing it, with much of the teaching which He has already given. Indeed the prayer which Jesus prayed on this night is practically a review of the whole content of the teaching which is recorded in the earlier chapters of the book. This shows us that Jesus followed a well defined plan in His teaching, and it shows us the unity of the Gospel of John.

In this prayer we may find that Jesus' revelation of God is threefold. In His Person He reveals God to us, for He was God manifest in the flesh. This is indicated in the words "I have manifested thy Name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world." To the testimony of His Person (which involves Jesus' virgin birth. His holiness, and all of the attributes of God which characterized His life) is added the testimony of His works. "They have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee." This plainly refers to the wonderful works which Jesus had already said were done in the power of God. The third revelation is the revelation of Jesus' Words, for He said, "I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me." Jesus'" words reveal God to men, as well as His Person and His Works. John 1:18; Matt. 1:21-23.


John 17:9-10

The prayer of Jesus was not confined to a review of former teaching. It also anticipated His intercessory worh. After Jesus' death and resurrection He ascended to the presence of God. There He is constantly engaged in intercession for believers. His intercessory work has been continuing now for nearly two thousand years, and it will continue until He comes to receive us unto Himself. This work began in the prayer which Jesus prayed just before His death. And in this prayer He gave the disciples a glimpse into the presence of the throne of God, where He was to be engaged thus on their behalf. In this prayer He gave them a pre-view of His work during the time of His absence from the earth. Heb. 7:25; I Jno. 2:i; Heb. 9:24.

We must remember that this intercession is on behalf of believers. He said, "I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me." (Vs. 9.) Jesus died for the world in order that He might save the souls of lost men and women. He has sent the Holy Spirit to convict them of their need, and to lead them to trust Him. But in these things He has done all He can for unbelievers. However, when a soul believes in Him his dealing with that soul is just begun. He gives eternal life and then intercedes constantly for him. Phil. 1:6; I Jno. 2:1.


John 17:11-12

Jesus' intercessory work contributes to the security of the believer. The basis of our salvation is the fact that the Blood of Jesus fully answered for our sins. This in itself guarantees our security, but we may see how secure we are by considering that all of the power of God is enlisted to keep us, that His Word has been pledged that we shall never perish, and that Jesus is now pleading the blood before the throne of grace. Jesus in this prayer teaches the security of the believer, and in praying for the Father to keep the disciples shows that His intercession has a definite part in it. First Jesus prayed, "Father, keep through thy Name those whom thou hast given me." And then He said, "While I was with them in the world I kept them in thy Name. Those whom thou gavest me I have kept and none of them is lost but the son of perdition that the Scripture might be fulfilled." Not a single believer in Jesus was lost then. He kept them all. Judas was not a believer. He was a son of perdition. And though he was included among the disciples he was not really one of them. So Jesus will never lose one of His children. He will keep them secure until the end of eternity. Jno. 5:2.).; Jno. 6:37; Jno. 10:28-29.


John 17:13

When we realize that Jesus has given us ' eternal life and security, when we consider that He is now interceding for us, when we meditate on the revelation of God's wondrous grace which He has given us, we are made to rejoice. Jesus stated that He said these things in the world in order that we might have His joy fulfilled in us. We can have this joy only as we believe His Word. By believing we will not fear for our salvation. We will realize that it is settled and in the confidence which comes through this fact we will rejoice. God does not want His children to be cast down and sorrowful. He wants them to radiate the joy of the Lord Jesus. He wants them to have the happiness of continued fellowship with Himself. We may have this joy and fellowship if we are willing, for God is always willing. He yearns over us with an unspeakable longing and would bless us more richly than we can imagine if only we did not hinder Him through unbelief and unyieldedness. Rom. 15:13; Rom. 5:11; Psa. 5:11-12.