“After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father…. I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.” John 17:1,6-8
One thing I just noticed about the beginning of chapter 17 is this first half of the verse, call it 1a, and its this — “after saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father…” I find this significant for a few reasons. Jesus follows up his teaching to his disciples with prayer to God. Second, Jesus doesn’t bow his head when he prays, he looks up to heaven with his eyes open and speaks out loud to God. And lastly, he addresses God as “Father.” Using this pronoun for God is in line with who he is as our dad, provider and protector.
All of this chapter is a prayer to the Father. He is praying for us to God and begins with the idea that he’s showed God to his followers. The NIV says “I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world.” Jesus’ role is many but one most important purpose is to reveal the Father to followers. Jesus points people to God plain and simple. And in so doing, he refers to God as Father— not mother, not other, not “it.” God is a person and he’s our Father.
Now Jesus is thanking God for giving us to him. He says, “they were always yours” God, because “you gave them to me and they have kept your word.” Immediately Jesus claims us as his own and also begins to intercede for us on behalf of the Father — i.e. “they have kept your word.” This too is one of Jesus’ roles — to speak on our behalf to the Father.
So what have we done that Jesus is telling God about on our behalf? The disciples now know that everything that Jesus has received from the Father is a gift from the Father. And, that he has “passed on to them the message you gave” to Jesus. The message of hope, love, redemption, forgiveness, and oneness with the Father! This is amazing. Jesus is saying everything he’s learned from the Lord is now made available to us.
Finally, Jesus tells God that the message that he received from the Father that has been communicated to the disciples (and now us) has been “accepted” and now we “know” that Jesus came from the Father, and they believe the Father sent Jesus.
It took Jesus some time to communicate the message and more time for the disciples and all those early followers who believed to accept the message. But once they accepted it they received the Holy Spirit and began to walk in the light of God’s love in a relationship with the Father — just like Jesus.
And so, I am at youth camp. I’ve returned to a retreat center which has been pivotal in my own spiritual growth and development. And people are hearing and receiving the word of God. Just like Jesus shared with the disciples who accepted and believed, so last night teenagers accepted and believed. They gave their lives to Jesus and are beginning to walk in the newness of life.
What a beautiful message of hope that we have to share. That life with God is possible for all who follower and believe in Jesus. And this is the good news of the gospel!
“O Lord God, we are well in to this camp and your hand is upon us. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for being unique and present in the power of your Holy Spirit. Come now, Lord God, settle upon us with peace. Help us chase after you and capture your love with our hearts. Come now, Lord, speak words of life to your people. We beseech thee! Come quickly Lord Jesus. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen