So, if Jesus' prayers are promises, what has he promised? John 17 offers some timely and applicable guarantees that we can take to the bank.
1. Future Believers
This does not begin a new prayer, for a new group of people, rather it imposes the supplications made on the current generation of believers on all future generations of believers. So all that was said previous is equally applied forward, including:
- His Glorification - It may seem like this isn't for us as much as it is for Jesus. But ultimately, we are the beneficiaries here. What does it mean for Jesus to be "glorified" - ultimate honor. Just as he gave the Father ultimate honor though his life and love and obedience, the Father would give Jesus the ultimate honor in raising Him from the dead, putting him at His right hand, and giving him authority over everything.
- Our Security - We may have confidence in hope, because it is completely of Divine origin. We are kept by God. If we were kept by anything else, it would be sure to fail. Eventually, everything fails. Cars, building, our bodies, even our character falters from time to time. But not God. You are secure as God is true.
- Our Joy - Certain resurrection from the dead and eternal life in the presence of God seems like enough to make us happy. But we often focus on the fact that they cancelled Jericho or how we feel. Jesus wants his joy in us. The joy, that when set before him allowed him to endure the cross. That's what we've been given. The joy we have!
- Our Protection - The evil one desires to sift us, devour us even. He tries and works at it. But he cannot have us. We are kept from power of Satan. Our souls belong to another.
- Our Sanctification - Jesus wants us to be completely set apart from the fallen world. So he doesn't simply command us to "be sanctified." He trusts it in the hands of the Father. Our sanctification is the outworking of God living in us. It can't be cultivated from the outside, but rather grows from the inside out.
- Our Unity - Jesus desires a oneness between us. And this oneness can't be based on things like our character, behavior, or even our ideas. In fact, as we often observe, these things fail. Divorce, war, fist-fights, court cases. But though the name of God, we can be united.
2. Our Witness
How will it come to pass that there will be a future generation of believers? Through the word of this generation. That formula still applies today. Those who will one day believe in Jesus will do so through our witness.
Through the power of witness, generation after generation of believers will enjoy a certain oneness. This oneness transcends space, time, genetic makeup, and culture. It is found in the Father and the Son, or "Us" from Jesus' perspective. So no matter your location on the planet, the century your were born in, the color of your skin, or the practices of your people, you enjoy oneness with all those who put their faith in Jesus.
It seems it would take an impressive power to accomplish something like this, making masses of individuals united in faith and practice. What tool can produce results? Jesus accomplished it with "glory". By giving us glory, the same glory that the Father had given him, Jesus made it possible and indeed proper for us to be bound together across all conceivable boundaries. Its his life, his word, his resurrection that gives power and unity to our life, our word, and someday our resurrections.
He then expresses a formula backward from what we've seen before. In John 14:20, Jesus expressed that Jesus is in the Father, and that believers are in Jesus. Now he turns it around. Jesus in us, God in Jesus. How can it be both ways? Only if there is oneness. If there is truly oneness, then it doesn't matter how you express it. Jesus is in Us. We are in God. God is in us. We are in Jesus. It all means the same thing, if we are experiencing an eternal and righteous life.
The purpose of this witness? To inform the world. Our witness is found both in the form of our word and in the unity by which exhibit. So, why let doctrinal differences divide us? Well, if our word doesn't match, then what is our basis for unity?
3. Our Presence
Jesus wants us with him. I usually think it the other way around. I want to be with Jesus. And of course I do. But Jesus wants me to be with him. That's awesome!
He wants us to observe the high honor that God has bestowed on him. Isn't this where we see God's love, in Jesus? God loved Jesus. A radical, crazy love that seems hard for us to comprehend. Whats so radical and crazy about it? Think about what God did. He sent His son to die for the sins of the world. To let his Son be the sin-bearer. To take the penalty for sin. To die for sin. So there you had all the sin in the world - everything God hates - layed upon this man, and he's lying dead in the ground. And God loves him. God doesn't stop loving him. This Father, never stops loving.
And this is Jesus' message. His declaration. His prayer. His promise. The love - that radical, crazy love - that the Father had for the Son - may be in you. We know that - experience it even - when the Son is in us.