"I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours;John 17:9(NASB)
The hour had arrived for Christ's betrayal and crucifixion, and the Lord Jesus gave His disciples an amazing glimpse into the intimate fellowship and precious communication which took place between the Father of all mercies and His dearly beloved Son - as Jesus prayed His High Priestly prayer in their hearing.
Christ's sovereignty over all flesh was referenced in His prayer, as was His authority to grant the gift of eternal life to those whom the Father had given to Him, to those who by faith would trust in His redeeming work. Christ received authority to give eternal life to all who would believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God - all whom God knew from before the foundation of the earth would believe.
Throughout His life, the Lord had glorified the Father and finished the work that He had been sent to do. He had laid aside His glory in order to redeem the world, but now He prayed that the mutual glory He shared with the Father before His incarnation would be restored. But His tender heart towards His dearly beloved disciples did not go unnoticed, for His prayer to the Father included those whom He had chosen to be His closest friends who had received Him, followed Him, and believed on His name.
For three years, Christ taught this little band of men. He had given to them the Word of Life which had come from heaven above. They had received the Word of Truth and accepted Christ as the Word of God made flesh. They had discovered Him to be the Good Shepherd, the Water of life, the Messiah of Israel, and the living Bread Who came down from heaven. They knew Him to be the resurrection and the life, and that He alone can give light in this dark world and hope to a lost and dying race.
And Jesus was about to transfer the enormous responsibility of spreading the gospel into their hands. They were to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, and to the uttermost parts of the earth. And it was in this final hour that Christ prayed on their behalf, that they would be united in the truth that they had received from Him - and that God would keep each one from the wicked schemes of the evil one. This little group of men were very precious to the Saviour, for the Father had given them to the Son and they had received His word and understood that Jesus came forth from God and was sent by the Father.
The love of God for the world was so great that He sent His beloved Son to be the sin-sacrifice for the whole of mankind, but Christ's prayer was not for the world, but for the men who would represent Him to the world. Christ interceded for His chosen disciples who would lay the foundation for the fledgling church and who would share the good news of the gospel of Christ to the Jew first and then to the Gentiles, to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Christ's prayer would later expand into intercession for the whole Body of Christ who would come to faith in Him through the word of their testimony and their faithful witness to the truth. The hour for Christ's betrayal and crucifixion arrived, and so He prayed that we would be united together in doctrine, in faith, in hope, in truth, and in love.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word of truth and for the men for whom Jesus prayed, who proclaimed the good news of the gospel to a lost and dying world. Thank You for their testimony that salvation is found in no other name but Jesus, to Whom be all honour and praise, AMEN.