The online Bible teaching ministry of John Brand

The Real Lord’s Prayer – John 17:6

Having prayed for himself – though actually the first part of his prayer only contains two requests – verses 1 and 5 – both asking for the Father to glorify the Son, Jesus now turns to the largest section of this prayer and prays for his disciples who are, as we saw in our opening study in this prayer, actually walking with him from the Upper Room to Gethsemane.

But here’s the first thing that struck me about this prayer – Jesus only makes a very small number of requests for them.  Most of this passage is not prayer but the reason for and the grounds of the requests he makes.

His actual requests come in

  • v11: “keep them in your name…that they may be one, even as we are one”
  • v13: “that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves”
  • v15: “keep them from the evil one”
  • v17: “Sanctify them in the truth”

We continue to work through this Scripture, taking our time, and reflecting on what Jesus’ prayer reveals to us, and in verses 6-10, ever before he actually prays for them, Jesus teaches us several things about these disciples, some of which we can apply to ourselves as well as New Testament disciples of Christ.

  • v6: Jesus has manifested the Father’s name to them
  • v6: the disciples were given to Jesus by the Father out of the world
  • v6: the disciples have kept the Father’s word
  • v7-8: the disciples know that all that Jesus gave them, was given to them by the Father; they know and believe that Jesus was sent by the Father
  • v9: the disciples were given to Jesus by the Father but still belong to the Father
  • v10: what belongs to Jesus belongs to the Father, and what belongs to the Father belongs to the Son
  • v10: Jesus is glorified in his disciples

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world.” (17:6)

To these disciples who have spent the last three years as his close companions Jesus has revealed the Father’s name.  God’s “name” embodies his person.  To reveal God’s name is to make his character known.

And surely the revelation that the Son has given has been through who he is and through what he has taught and done in his entire ministry, including what he has said about the cross that now looms large and imminent before them all.

I can’t put it better than Charles Ross:

From the manger at Bethlehem to the grace of Joseph of Arimathea, from Jordan to the brook Cedron, from the mount of transfiguration to the hill of Golgotha, the whole of Christ’s life, his sufferings and death, ay, and afterwards his resurrection – is nothing but the most lucid and blessed revelation of the name of God, by which he would be known of us. [1]

So comprehensive and clear was the Son’s revelation of the Father that at the end of this lifelong lesson he could say, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

This is, of course, not only true of the Apostles gathered about the Saviour on the eve of his betrayal, arrest and crucifixion.  Exactly the same can be said about us.   What we know about God we know, partly through the Scriptures which he has provided for us, but also through the revelation of the Father that the Son has given us in who he is and what he has taught and done.

In these last days”, says the writer to the Hebrews, God “has spoken to us by (or “in”) his Son”, who is, “the radiance” (the outshining, what sunshine is to the sun) of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (1:3). Jesus shines with God’s glory.

Paul teaches the Colossian Christians that Christ is, “the image of the invisible God….in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” (1:15, 19)

The story is told of the child who was asked by his mother what it was that he was drawing.  “I’m drawing God”, was the innocent answer.  “But no-one knows what God looks like” was the grown-up response of the parent, to which the child replied, “Well they do now!”

If we want to know what God is like we just need to look to Jesus, to study his person, his works and his words, because Jesus has, even to us manifested the Father’s name.

But, friends – and we have to be very careful in how we apply this to ourselves – there is a practical lesson for us in all of this, for how are the people of the world to know the truth about the name and person of God unless they see it manifested in us, his people? They are unlikely to read of him in the Scriptures; they cannot physically see Christ; but they can and do see and watch us.

With God’s help, may we also be able to say ‘we have manifested your name‘.

[1] The Inner Sanctuary London: Banner of Truth, 1967, p211

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