Lesson 11

March 10 - 16

The High Priestly Prayer: Jesus

Sabbath Afternoon   March 10

HEAVEN AND EARTH ONCE WERE AT ONE WITH EACH OTHER. Then sin came and drove them apart. It is Satan's mission to break up all godly unions—whether it be marriage, the family, the church, or tribes and nations. John's Gospel paints the contrast between heaven and earth as follows:

The World Above





The World Below





Jesus came to bring life to a world of death, light to a world in darkness, truth to a place of lies. He descended from the world above to be the ladder uniting the two realms. In Jesus, divinity and humanity are united so that He becomes our High Priest, representing God to us and us to God. He brought heaven down to earth, and at His ascension, lifted humanity up to God.

As you study this week's prayer, examine your heart to see what Jesus' conversation with God means to you personally.


I.     "The Hour Has Come" (John 17:1-5, RSV).

II.   Mutual Ownership (John 17:6-10).

III.  "Father, Keep Them" (John 17:11-19, RSV).

IV.  In the World but Not of the World (John 17:13-19).

V.   "That They May All Be One" (John 17:20-26, RSV).

MEMORY TEXT:  "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who are to believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe e that thou hast sent me" (John 17:20, 21, RSV).  

Sunday  March 11

"THE HOUR HAS COME" (John 17:1-5, RSV).

Concluding their time in the upper room, Jesus gathered His eleven disciples around Him and lifted them up in prayer. First, He prayed for Himself (vss. 1-5), then for His disciples (vss. 6-19), and finally for all believers. Thus, Jesus has prayed for you (vss. 20-26).

Christ's "hour" had come. "The hour" had been planned since the foundation of the world. He had anticipated His "hour" throughout His life on earth. To Him, the hour of His death was His hour of glory: He would glorify His Father, and His Father would glorify Him (John 17:1).

What glory was there in being lifted up on the cross?  What would He accomplish through it?

John 12:23, 24 _______________________________________________________________________

John 12:31  __________________________________________________________________________

John 12:32  ___________________________________________________________________  

The crucifixion appeared to be anything but glorious. At the crossroads of the world, Jesus would be stripped of all human dignity and degraded by the very people He came to save. Incredibly, though, to Him it was an hour of supreme glory. He was about to illumine the world and the onlooking universe with a glory never before witnessed, though He and the Father had shared this glory before They created the world (17:5)—the glory of self-sacrificing love. Jesus was anticipating the grand results of His suffering on the cross (Isa. 53:10, 11).

What was Jesus' secret of being jubilant in the face of a cruel death? John 17:13; Heb. 12:2.  

Through faith, Jesus transcended time and space. He could see the glory of the future and bring it into the present darkness. He could rise above earthly gloom to the presence of His Father (John 17). He invites us also to "come to the Father" through Him (14:6). We may "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16).

Look again at Hebrews 4:16.  What do the promises in there mean?  What does it mean to approach God "boldly"?  How could you, right now, or in any "time of need," apply the promises in this text to your life?  

Monday  March 12

MUTUAL OWNERSHIP (John 17:6-10).

Jesus rejoiced because He had completed the work God gave Him to do (John 17:4). What work was that? Verses 6, 8, 12.  

Jesus considered that His mission on earth was to reveal the Father to His disciples so they could share this revelation with the world. He had sown the seed. They were to sow more seeds and reap the harvest (4:35-38), making their work greater in extent than His (14:12). All subsequent generations would believe in Jesus through their efforts (17:20).

In verse 8, Jesus tells His Father two things about the eleven men listening to His prayer:

1. They had accepted Jesus' teachings, unlike the Pharisees and others who had heard Him.

2. They knew beyond a doubt where Jesus had come from, and acceptance of this led them into further truth.

List the possessions the Father and the Son hold jointly. John 17:5-10. 

Jesus and His Father do not own separate bank accounts. They share everything jointly, and we are one of Their most precious possessions.

How do we become God's "possession"?

John 3:16-18  ________________________________________________________________________

John 12:32  __________________________________________________________________________

John 14:6  ___________________________________________________________________________

John 15:16  ______________________________________________________________________ 

Both the Father and the Son work for our salvation. The Father draws us to Jesus (6:44), and Jesus draws us to Him by His Cross (12:32). In this sense, we are Their property, obtained at great cost to Them, and They derive great joy from us. We have a role to play, too, however. We must respond to God's drawing power.

How does knowing that we have been "bought" at such a great price change our views about ourselves?  What does it tell us about our worth?  

Tuesday  March 13

"FATHER, KEEP THEM" (John 17:11-19, RSV).

What was Jesus' great concern as He faced separation from His disciples?  John 17:11.  

"Jesus is about to leave; hence He commits the disciples to His Father's care. . . . They would be left in an evil world and would need special grace in their battle against sin. This keeping power every Christian may claim. God will not suffer him to be tempted above what he is able to bear (1 Cor. 10:13). He is impregnable to the assaults of Satan so long as he battles in the strength and light of Heaven. However, God keeps only those who choose to be kept. When against divine counsel men willfully place themselves upon the enemy's ground they cannot expect to be preserved by the power of God."—The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1052:11, "Keep."

Though it's so easy to forget, we do live in a world where supernatural forces are always at work. In our humanity, with our own carnal and worldly weapons, we are incapable of fighting against those powers that are hostile to us. We can no more fight Satan on our own than we could shoot down a military jet with a slingshot. That's why we have to rely on Divine power, the power of God. More than anything else, prayer is the method by which we grasp hold of that power—as did Christ.

"As a man He supplicated the throne of God till His humanity was charged with a heavenly current that should connect humanity with divinity. Through continual communion He received life from God, that He might impart life to the world."—The Desire of Ages, p. 363. Through our prayer life, we may be so charged with the power of self-sacrificing love that our faces radiate the glory of God—His name on our foreheads.

Jesus saw in His disciples the seed of His church that would spread over continents and ages to become a great multitude that could not be numbered, standing before the throne, praising Him for His salvation (Rev. 7:9, 10). This was Jesus' joy, and in John 17:13 He prays that we will experience this same joy in full measure. In order for us to do so, we must learn to abide in Him as branches abide in the vine (lesson 10). Then we will experience the power of God's name and the joy of serving Him.

There's a phrase that supposedly someone once used in the heat of a military battle: "Praise the Lord, but pass the ammunition!"  What do you think this means?  How could you apply that principle to your own life?  Or should you even apply it? 

Wednesday  March 14


Why does the world hate Jesus and His people? John 17:14; 15:18, 19.  

"Because Christ's followers don't cooperate with the world by joining in their sin, they are living accusations against the world's immorality. The world follows Satan's agenda, and Satan is the avowed enemy of Jesus and his people."—Life Application Study Bible (NIV), p. 1916. Jesus told Peter that Satan wanted to "have" him. The adversary of souls claims every sinner as his own (Zech. 3:1; Jude 9; Rev. 12:10). For this reason, Jesus guards us. He does not want to lose a single soul.

'I [Jesus] give them eternal life, and they shall never perish and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one' " (John 10:28-30, RSV).

Grasp a coin in your left hand. You are just as secure in the hand of Jesus, even more so. Then wrap your right hand around your left hand. You are secure in the Father's hand as well. When tempted to doubt your own salvation, claim the promise that both Jesus and the Father will hold you firmly in Their hands.

List and explain the things Jesus and His people have in common.

John 17:13, 16 ______________________________________________________________________

John 17:18, 19 _______________________________________________________________  

In Jesus' high priestly prayer, He "put his whole soul into an adoration of thanksgiving to the Father for allowing him to suffer for the world. . . . [A]ll through the prayer he keeps speaking of his disciples as a gift of God to him. . . . Lovingly and trustfully he commits them to the Father's watchfulness and care. . . . that they may hold together, and be one in heart and mind and purpose."—George Arthur Buttrick, editor, The Interpreter's Bible (Nashville, Tenn.: Abingdon Press, 1952), vol. VIII, p. 742.

Why would Jesus, the Son of God, need to consecrate Himself?  What does this say about the importance of consecrating ourselves to God? 

Thursday  March 15

"THAT THEY MAY ALL BE ONE" (John 17:20-26, RSV).

After Jesus prayed specifically for His eleven disciples, He broadened His prayer to include "those who will believe . . . through their [the disciples'] message" (John 17:20, NIV).

What was Jesus' supreme wish for those of us who followed His disciples? John 17:21-23.  

Why is it so important that this wish be fulfilled?  

The Father and the Son are closely bonded together. They never act independently but always are united in everything They do (John 5:20-23). They share a common love for fallen humanity to the extent that the Father sacrificed His Son, and the Son sacrificed His life (3:16; 10:15). Neither one seeks His own glory, but each brings glory to the Other (17:1). To know One is to know the Other (14:7, 9). This type of relationship is what Christ desires for us, the members of His church.

The unity Jesus is speaking of is "an expression of the creative diversity within the Godhead. As there is only one 'true God' who manifests Himself through differing functions of Father, Son, and Spirit, so the loving unity of the body of believers is expressed through a rich variety of gifts and ministry. The whole family of God is a beautiful montage [picture] of differing cultures and temperaments, colors and gifts, offered to God in worship and ministry that He may be glorified."—Lloyd J. Ogilvie, general editor, and Royce L. Fredrickson, The Communicator's Commentary: John, vol. 4, p. 258.

Love is the "glue" that will hold us together in Christian unity (17:26). Love, oneness, and glory are closely related. Love holds the universe together. Selfishness tears it apart. We find the Christian definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Sometime during the remainder of this week, read and meditate upon this definition.

How do you deal with a church member who is upset by things happening in the church and is thus causing disunity?  At the same time, is unity at any cost a biblical principle?  For example, if a group of church members, or even a pastor, were teaching that the Sabbath was no longer binding and that violating it was not a sin, would dealing with them be appropriate, even at the cost of unity?  Who decides over which factors, if any, are worth splitting a church?  

Friday March 16

FURTHER STUDY:  To reflect further on the theme of love and oneness as expressed in Jesus' prayer in John 17, read the following:

Psalm 133; Ephesians 4:l-16; 1 John 3:1, 11-24; 4:7-21. Also read The Desire of Ages, pp. 680.  

Jesus' prayer in John 17 "is a lesson regarding the intercession that the Saviour would carry on within the veil, when His great sacrifice in behalf of men, the offering of Himself, should have been completed. Our Mediator gave His disciples this illustration of His ministration in the heavenly sanctuary in behalf of all who will come to Him in meekness and humility, emptied of all selfishness, and believing in His power to save (MS 29, 1906)."—Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1145, "Illustration of Jesus' Intercession in Heavenly San[c]tuary."

1. What does Jesus' high priestly prayer teach you personally about His present work in your behalf?  With such a prayer as this, how should we view the work He is presently doing for us?  
2. When we read Jesus' prayer in John 17, we are struck by how easily He talked with His Father. What can we learn from this example about conversational prayer?  
3. When Jesus prayed this prayer, it was a very special moment in His life. List and discuss special moments in the lives of people and the church when prayer is essential.  
4. In what specific ways does Jesus' prayer apply to His followers and the church today?  How might the church be changed if we made Jesus' prayer our prayer? 

SUMMARY:  Just before Jesus went forth to die, He consecrated His disciples and all succeeding believers to His Father through prayer. The bonds of God's love are the power we need to draw the unbelieving world to Christ. Pray daily for an outpouring of that love upon yourself and the church.  

The One-Day River

Joe Dugucagi

FIJI—When Joe Dugucagi (doon-goo-KAHN-gee) joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church, he was the only Adventist in his village. He met strong opposition from others when he tried to share his faith, but eventually a few others were baptized.

The believers held evangelistic meetings, and seven people prepared for baptism. But an eight-month drought had left the nearby river dry. Some skeptical villagers jeered at the Adventists, who insisted on baptizing by immersion, even when there was no water. The only alternative was to baptize the new believers in an oil drum. The day before the baptism, the believers carried water to fill the barrel. That evening they gathered for vespers and once more asked God for rain, though the skies were clear.

The next morning Joe saw puddles of water outside his door. He realized that it must have rained during the night, although he had not heard rain, even on his house's metal roof. Excited, he hurried to the river and found the water level was up to his chest! He ran to tell the pastor the good news.

The believers gathered under the clear sky to worship and praise God and then moved to the river for the baptism. It was a glorious day for the little Adventist congregation!

The following morning when Joe went down to the river to bathe, he found only a few puddles where yesterday there had been a full river. He walked some distance to another channel of the same river and found water there. Apparently, Friday night's rain had caused the river to change course and fill the river channel nearest the village. When the water receded, the river returned to its normal channel.

The villagers were amazed that the rain had filled the river channel in answer to the prayers of the believers and then left it dry the next day. Many who had jeered the Adventists responded with interest.

The church in Joe's village now has about forty members, thanks to God's blessings and to answered prayers.

Joe Dugucagi works in Suva, Fiji, but he spends his weekends in his rural village, where he continues to share his faith.

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