John 17.1

Title: The Lord’s Prayer: An Introduction

Text: John 13.1-17.1

CIT: Jesus offers his disciples final instructions before his prayer and his passion.

CIS: Jesus offers his disciples final instructions before his prayer and his passion.


Let me spend a moment updating you on where we are and where we will be in the coming months. My current plan is to preach on Prayer this month: specifically, The Lord’s High Priestly Prayer. Here then, is a sneak peak at the next few months sermons series I have planned.

–       January – The Lord’s Prayer

–       February & March – The Lord’s Passion

–       April & May – The Lord’s Purpose

Now, with this being said, I want to talk to you today about prayer. Not just today, but for the next few weeks. This is a subject in which I’m not qualified to speak as an expert. I should be, no doubt. It is my job description – Ministry of the Word and Prayer. It is something I know about and have experienced. However, the more I learn about it, the more I realize what a novice I truly am. It seems unfair or unjust for me, a mere student of this topic, to wax eloquent upon Prayer. Let me give you two reasons for why I can and plan on doing this very thing this month:

  • 1st, my job will be to look at Christ and his high priestly prayer – not my poor example of prayer. My personal experience will be a limited illustration. My task will be to focus on Christ and his prayer.
  • 2nd, it’s in the text. I can’t skip it – no matter how hard the topic.
  • I began preaching through John some years ago. I believe it was in ’09. I left it, came back to it, left it again. The plan is now to finish it up this Spring. For January – our focus on prayer:

I’ve divided this passage up into 4 parts to be looked at over four weeks.

–       John 17.1 is the introduction and a chance to recapitulate what has happened in Chapters 13-16.

–       John 17.1-6 will be a look at Jesus praying for himself and a glimpse at the Eternal Purpose and Plan of God.

–       John 17.7-19 will focus on His prayer for his disciples.

–       Finally, 17.20-25 will focus on us, those believers who follow Christ today.

Our concern for prayer is pretty straight forward.

–       The Bible Commands Prayer and assumes it is a part of the believers life.

–       The Bible also records examples of prayer for us to learn by.

–       The Old Testament is filled with examples

  • Abram prayed
    • For Ishmael
    • For Abimelech
    • For God to spare Sodom
    • His servant prayed for guidance when he was sent by Abram to find a wife for Isaac.
    • Isaac prayed for Rebecca, that her womb would be opened.
    • Jacob prayed for protection against Esau
    • Moses prayed quite a bit
      • My favorite is when he interceded for Israel.
      • For Aaron
      • For Miriam
    • Joshua prayed
    • Gideon prayed
    • Samson prayed
    • Hannah prayed for a son and Eli prayed for Hannah
    • Samuel prayed
    • David prayed
    • Solomon prayed

And the list goes on and on of:

–       Kings prayed for themselves and for their people. Hezekiah comes to mind in his prayer for deliverance.

–       Prophets prayed and interceded for their people. Elijah at Mt. Carmel, Elisha over a dead child and for his servants eyes to be opened to the spiritual realm. Jonah, from the belly of a giant fish! Daniel prayed regularly.

–       Ezra and Nehemiah prayed as the people returned from captivity and established their homeland again.

–       Book after book we find pray-ers and prayers. None more popular than Psalms where we learn to pray the ACTS model – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.

Likewise, the NT is filled with prayers.

–       In the book of Acts we find the church devoted to prayer.

–       The Apostles establish their work through prayer.

–       Paul pleads for churches to remember him in their prayers and he promises to remember them, too. Indeed, his whole ministry was characterized by prayer from his conversion, on!

–       You remember when Peter was kept in prison, the church was kept in prayer!

Still, of all the examples we have, none is matched by the prayers of our Savior.

–       It was He who taught us to pray: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

–       His prayers are so perfect, the disciples ask him, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

–       His life was marked with prayer: Early in the morning; in front of people or alone; Event after event; setting after setting; time and again; Jesus prayed.

–       It was because of his example that we pray like we do;

  • He taught us to call God “Father”
  • To pray in his name
  • To pray in numbers
  • To fast, humble ourselves

Listen to John MacArthur: But of all the prayers of Jesus, the one recorded here in the seventeenth chapter of John’s gospel is the most profound and magnificent. Its words are plane, yet majestic; simple, yet mysterious. They plunge the reader into the unfathomable depths of the inter-Trinitarian communication between the Father and the Son, and the scope encompasses the entire sweep of redemptive history from election to glorification, including the themes of regeneration, revelation, illumination, sanctification, and preservation. The veil is drawn back and the reader is escorted by Jesus Christ into the Holy of Holies, to the very throne of God.

What an invitation! What an opportunity! Today, we’ll look at this introduction to the Lord’s Prayer – The Real Lord’s Prayer, verse 1 of Ch. 17. I’ve divided this verse into three parts:

The Setting of the Prayer: When Jesus had spoken these things

His Posture in Prayer: He lifted up his eyes to heaven

His Request in Prayer: Glorify yourself through your son

Transition: Let’s begin with the Setting.

I.          The Setting (17.1a)

exp.: rd v 1.a; When Jesus had spoken these words; What words? DA Carson says: In some respects the prayer is a summary of the entire Fourth Gospel to this point. Its principal themes include Jesus’ obedience to his Father, the glorification of his Father through his death/exaltation, the revelation of God in Christ Jesus, the choosing of the disciples out of the world, their mission to the world, their unity modeled on the unity of the Father and the Son, and their final destiny in the presence of the Father and the Son.

The Setting: Well, the context goes back to 13.1 up to here in 17.1; For our purposes today, we’ll look at the immediate context of Chapters 13-17; 11.1ff – Lazarus is raised; in 12.1ff we have the triumphal entry; in 13.1ff, we have the Last Supper; as a reference of timeline

Jesus moves toward Jerusalem

Jesus enters Jerusalem (Triumphal entry)

The Last Supper (Judas is revealed, Peter is warned; other instructions are given, especially concerning the Holy Spirit; 14-16)

The High Priestly Prayer

Jesus & the disciples move out across the Kidron Valley to the Mt of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. Chapter 18;

ill.: There is a lot of talk and a lot of instruction. Things are very serious, Jesus is telling his disciples that he’s leaving and he is sending another “parakletos” to help them, to guide them. But there comes a moment when he stops talking and starts praying.

app.: that’s an important moment to learn; that’s is something for the wise and discerning heart to determine – when to stop talking with each other and when to start praying.

Transition: That’s the setting: ministry ends; The Last Supper with great, important instruction; now prayer. …let’s look at His Posture in prayer. Rd v 1.b;

II.      His Posture (17.1b)

exp.: he lifted up his eyes to heaven; lit.: lifting up his eyes to heaven; I think this posture speaks of his confidence; compare w/ the tax collector who standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ (Lk 18.13); we’re more like the tax collector, huh? Lacking confidence and acknowledging our sinfulness, unworthy to stand and gaze into heaven and make our plea, we beat our chest and lower our heads. That’s not how it should be! We should be confident.

ill.: I’m reminded of the Son who wanted to preach. He asks his dad and insists on preaching Sunday night. If you’d come up like you went down, then you’d have gone down like you came up.

app.: Humility comes before confidence. When living our lives in faithful, humble obedience, we’re taught that we, too, can enter the throne room with Confidence and ask anything according to God’s Will. That is what Christ is doing here. He is confident and with good reason. He’s been faithful and obedient to the task the Father has given him. He’s now going to lay his request before His Father, knowing that this is His Father’s Will.

Transition: We see his posture and the setting in which this all takes place. Now, let’s look at his purpose.

III.    His Request (17.1c)

exp.: rd 17c; and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you; So what is his purpose? The Glory of His Father through his own glorification. It’s time. It’s now here. We’ll look at this more deeply next week, but the moment of redemption has come. Christ knows it. Everything in all human history has been moving in a linear fashion to this moment. The hour has come! In Jn 2.4 Jesus said his hour has not yet come, in Ch. 4 he tells the Samaritan woman that the hour is coming. In 5.25, 28 Jesus says an hour is coming. In 7.30 it says they couldn’t arrest him because his hour had not yet come. It says the same thing in 8.20. Something happens in Ch 12. Some Greeks come seeking the Savior. Do you remember? 12.20ff; BOOM. Something has happened. We never hear if these guys get in to see Jesus or not. But this moment marks that something different has happened. BTW: that’s the end of his ministry. We move into Ch. 13 and Jesus enters the upper room where he’ll partake of the Last Supper with his disciples. There he instructs them as we’ve already talked about.

Transition: Isn’t it interesting, ironic, that this, the longest recorded prayer of Jesus, is not called the Lord’s Prayer? This really is the Lord’s Prayer, but that title has been used elsewhere. Here, we’re given a front row seat to the prayer of Jesus – praying for himself, his disciples and us – those who would believe their message.

Observations & Implications:

  1. We cannot over emphasis the importance of this prayer. It teaches us, it instructs us.
  2. We can never learn enough about prayer. And yet, experience is our greatest teacher.
  3. Salvation begins with a prayer!

Andrew Murray: The knowledge of God’s Father-love is the first and simplest, but also the last and highest lesson in the school of prayer. It is in the personal relation to the living God, and the personal conscious fellowship of love with Himself, that prayer begins. It is in the knowledge of God’s Fatherliness, revealed by the Holy Spirit, that the power of prayer will be found to root and grow.

If you’ve never prayed that prayer, I want to give you the chance right now.


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Filed under John, Scripture, Sermons

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