July 23 – John 17:1-5


Main focus: The public glory of the Triune God is wrapped up in him saving a people for himself.

This begins our four-week study through chapter 17 in the gospel of John. As we dive into this series, it will be helpful for us to keep in mind our “theme” for the year, All of God for All of Us. God, in his perfect Triune unity, desires all his people to know and love him.

As we dive into this passage, we want to keep it at the forefront of our minds and remember that this chapter of John’s gospel account is in red letters: Jesus’s words. Even more specifically, these words are Jesus praying for his people. This is not just Jesus asking for us to do something; he’s asking that God would transform us into something greater, a unified body of believers who seek to be so unified that we would be “as one.”

As we’re reading this passage, we see much talk of Jesus asking to be “glorified” by God, but what does that actually mean? Jesus wasn’t stripped of his divinity when he became man. Jesus’s request and prayer for glory were so that he would be sustained, in God, through death and  so that he would be restored to his glory through resurrection. The entire purpose of this was so that God would receive fame and glory and his name would be made known. 

This language of being “one” is somewhat common in Scripture, particularly when discussing marriage and knowing God. In Genesis, we see the language of a man and woman becoming one flesh (Gen. 2:24). In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes of being one with God in spirit through faith in Christ (1 Cor. 6:17). Paul writes of this extensively, with several accounts in different letters to the churches of that time, reminding them that it’s Christ, not any creed, background, social status that unifies. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul writes, “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Rom. 12:5). There is so much that could be said surrounding Romans, but the connecting link to our passage in John 17 is that the blood of Jesus unifies us, even when worldly factors tend to separate us.

Because there’s a lot of meat to chew on in John 17, let’s take it verse by verse to be sure we can digest it well. When Jesus begins his prayer, we get a glimpse of both his humanity and his divinity. Jesus is praying to God. He’s not calling him up on the phone or just chatting. No, Jesus sets the example in how he prays to the Lord. The way Jesus addresses God, also shows us his authority and divinity. In simply telling God, “Glorify your Son,” Jesus shows us that he is God the Son in the flesh and holds all authority, and he cites this in verse 2 as the reason for his being glorified by God.

In verse 3, we see Jesus give a beautiful summary of the gospel. Praying to God, Jesus says, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Here we get to the heart of Jesus’s prayer. He desires for us to know God and, in turn, be transformed by him. In genuinely knowing God, we can’t help but be transformed into a caring, loving, and united community, and Jesus knows it. 

Looking at verses 4 and 5, we see Jesus making a bold statement, saying that he has already accomplished the work which God gave him. Jesus is so confident and knows what’s to come that he already declares his (coming) death and resurrection as victory! When we read this, we can be encouraged and comforted, knowing that whatever hills there are to climb, Jesus had already gone before us and, in the end, won. There will be heartache, suffering, and pain in life on earth, but our lives are secured in eternity with him, effectively cheating death. This is the meaning of Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 15, an echo from Hosea 13. It’s written, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (v55).

As we get into discussion, we’ll go through some specific questions that will hopefully guide us through what Jesus’s glory means and how it relates to us (and how we relate to one another). Jesus’s primary focus in this passage is glorifying God and uniting his people under that banner. The people of God should be set apart from the world, not falling prey to meaningless bickering and in-fighting. God desires for us to be different from the world, and if you’ve ever seen a group of people who genuinely love Jesus and each other, that’s different.

There are some groups of believers who you look at and really wonder how they all found their way to one another. They’re so different from and even opposite of one another, but their love for God and the church creates a bond unbelievably strong. God’s truth and Christ’s work in our own lives bind us so much more than any hobby, workplace, or favorite sports team. This is the beauty of John 17 (and really the entirety of God’s word).

As we go through these next few weeks, we encourage you to analyze Jesus’s words. You’ll see how his heart is for our oneness with him and with one another. With our sights set on harmony and unity within the church, we can worship and draw closer to God, knowing that his word and truth bind us together, regardless of what makes us different.

Questions for Discussion
• Could someone read John 17:1-5 for us?

• What stood out to you from the passage?

• What is glory, and how does that help us understand Jesus’s work on earth?

• Look at verses 1 and 4—how do you think Jesus demonstrated living for God’s glory rather than his own?

• When is it challenging for you to live for God’s glory?

• When you think about glorifying God in your life, what do you think needs to change or grow?

• In particular, how might living for God’s glory affect the way we live in community?