The Heart of Jesus

John 17 gives us a glimpse into the heart of Jesus unlike any other chapter in the four Gospels.  For many readers of this “beloved Gospel” it is the “beloved chapter,” expressing so much of what Jesus aimed to express in his life and work.  It is the longest prayer that we have from Jesus.  Luke often mentions Jesus at prayer (Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28-29; 11:1; 22:41-45; 23:46); perhaps the Lord’s prayer is comparable, but not even it provides the depth and range of ideas offered here.  Listening to the prayer of someone often provides a glimpse into the deeper recesses of that person’s consciousness of God.  Such is certainly true in this prayer.  Over a hundred years ago one commentator wrote: “No attempt to describe the prayer can give a just idea of its sublimity, its pathos, its touching yet exalted character, its tone at once of tenderness and triumphant expectation.” (Burge)

John 17:1-26

1After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

   “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

    6 “I have revealed you[a] to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[b] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by[c]that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

   13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

    20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

   24“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

   25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”


  1. What three different subjects does Jesus pray for?
  2. What does he ask for these three?
  3. How does a prayer for people 2,000 years ago carry over to us?
  4. What does this prayer reveal about the heart of Jesus?
  5. How could your heart be more like Jesus’ heart?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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2 Responses to The Heart of Jesus

  1. Megan Toth says:

    It never struck me how clear-cut and thorough Jesus was in this prayer until reading this again today. His heart is so focused on the protection, sanctification, and unity of the Church.
    The specific unity defined is that of being one with Him and the Father. There is so much division in the Church because of different denominations and interpretations of Scripture. Each denomination, if biblical, would say that Jesus and His work at the cross truly is the foundation of their doctrine. But is that just it – has our focus become too theology-oriented and/or people-oriented? Both are biblical and important focuses, but has Jesus Christ and His life, death, and resurrection just become another doctrine? Clearly, His foundational and ultimate purpose was to bring forgiveness of sins, but this prayer of Jesus expands His, and therefore our, mission much more. I’ve heard many sermons from Scripture, but entire teachings on sanctification and what that looks like practically and starkly seem to be a rare breed. The same is true of messages on the life of Jesus Himself!
    As we see in verses 14-19, Christ is not looking out for our comfort or physical safety here on earth, but rather our sanctification. In fact, He makes clear that He does not ask the Father for protection from the world – solely protection from the enemy of our souls. He makes evident that we will be hated by the world when we preach and teach the Truth of who He is and what He has done – something that much of the modern, Western Church doesn’t seem to understand (and I am not counting myself out of the Church I refer to!). Once we belong to Him, we should no longer consider ourselves part of this world. Because of this truth, how should that practically look in our lives? Should the offensive actions and words others speak or act toward Christ-followers truly affect and/or offend us the way they often do?
    What does it truly mean that He has given us the glory that the Father has given Him (verses 22-23)? To this, I am intrigued to study more deeply – because if it is truly understood, Christ Himself says that we as His body will be brought to “complete unity” and, as Jesus says in verse 23 to the Father, that “the world will know that you sent me and has loved them even as you have loved me.” The entire world, which He states is separate than those who already know Him, will know this truth about who Christ is and the love God has for both Him and them? That’s a big deal, a REALLY big deal…
    Another interesting note is in verse 26 as Jesus says that He “will continue to make [the Father] known” – it’s so amazing, yet so humbling, to know that it is now through us – the living Body of Christ – that this noted continuation is happening so that the love the Father has for Jesus will be made known to the world He defeated death for. How am I doing when it comes to allowing Christ to do this through me? Can anybody say CONVICTION?

    Thank you for sharing this – I have been challenged in both mind and heart. I apologize if I have interpreted anything wrongly and am totally open to correction. I am also quite sure there is so much more I have not even touched on…
    ([Faith and Learning ED 2210] Megan Toth)

  2. [ED2203-01] HyeJin Lee says:

    What three different subjects does Jesus pray for?
    – For the first part, He glorifies God and Jesus prays for his disciples and all believers.

    What does he ask for these three?
    – For the first part, he is asking God to glorify him for he has done the works God gave him to do. Second, he is praying for God to protect Jesus’ disciples so that they may be one just as Jesus and God are one.

    How does a prayer for people 2,000 years ago carry over to us?
    – Because Jesus did not pray only for his disciples but for all those who will believe through his disciple’s messages.

    What does this prayer reveal about the heart of Jesus?
    – Jesus cares us so much that we may have full of joy through being one in Jesus.

    How could your heart be more like Jesus’ heart?
    – I was so motivated by the fact that Jesus was wanting for us to become one unity and to keep staying in him. so I would try to love others just like God has loved Jesus and like Jesus had loved his disciples.

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