Jn 17:11-19 – What the Savior wants for his friends
Friendship is one of the most valuable commodities of life. The closest friends Jesus
had were His disciples. These were the men He spent the most time with; the ones
He took time to teach patiently and thoroughly. These were the men who cared for
Him when He was weary and celebrated with Him in the times of victory.
Today, 7th Sunday of Easter, the Sunday after Ascension and the Sunday before
Pentecost, the Gospel contains the prayer Jesus prayed for his friends. What he
prays for is very moving, and very applicable to ourselves.
1. HOW JESUS VIEWED THE DISCIPLES
In Jn 17:6-10, “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.
They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now
they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them
the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I
came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not
praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I
have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through
Jesus says that they are special gifts from the Father; they have been obedient; they
were accepting of the truth; they were certain of His nature; they brought Him glory.
This is quite a positive description, don’t you think?
Imagine that Jesus had prayed thus: “Lord, thank you for the disciples but you
know how dull they are. Help them to understand what I’m trying to tell them.
Help them to remain faithful, I know how they are prone to run away when the
trouble comes.” In truth, Jesus knew what was ahead. He knew about the upcoming
denials. In fact, He warns Peter that He will deny Him three times before the rooster
crows. Yet, in spite of this knowledge, none of this is included in the prayer. It’s all
These words certainly spurred the disciples on, in the difficult days! When they felt
like giving up would not those words have helped them keep going? One can almost
hear them saying: “The Savior believes in us!” “The Lord is counting on us!”
Certainly, Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. He wanted to ENCOURAGE
rather than DISCOURAGE. He wanted to spotlight the POTENTIAL not the
FAILURE. He wanted His disciples looking forward, not back.
This is the way Jesus looks at you and me! The Lord sees what you CAN BE. He
sees the potential and rejoices at what He can do through us. While we are wallowing
in self-pity over present difficulties Jesus celebrates our future victories. While we are
dragged down by past sin, Jesus is rejoicing over your future faithfulness. Jesus is
our best friend! We sing, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” but do you believe it?
2. JESUS’ PRAYER FOR HIS FRIENDS
Jesus asks the Father for four things regarding his disciples. Look at the text: “Holy
Father, protect them by the power of your name-the name you gave me-so that
they may be one as we are one.” (Jn 17:11) The word for “protect” means to
guard or keep. But here’s the question: What does He want them to be protected
from? It is not the Devil and his powers because He mentions that specifically in Vs
a) Whatever it is that He wants them to be protected from will be a threat to
their ONENESS AND UNITY. A close reading of the text reveals: Jesus prays that
the Father protect THEM FROM THEMSELVES. The greatest threat to unity is sinful
human nature. Jesus saw it in the disciples before. They argued over: who was the
greatest; who should sit at the right and left of Jesus in glory; who should wash the
feet; why they could not do certain miracles; whether they should let the children
come to see Jesus. This is human nature!
As human beings we are naturally drawn to bitterness, jealousy, self-centeredness,
pettiness, gossip, grudges, anger, prejudice and much more. Each of these things
can wreck any relationships, worse still the oneness of the Church. Jesus is praying
that the Father would protect them from such division. If the disciples were going to
carry the message to the world, they needed to work together. So should we, also!
The apostle Paul stated it positively: “Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God,
therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us
and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph.
At this juncture, we must ask ourselves: in whatever group we find ourselves, are we
building oneness or destroying it?
b) The second thing Jesus asks is that they might have, “the full measure of
my joy within them.” In fact Jesus seems to say that the very reason He is praying
out loud is because He wants the disciples to hear Him. He wants them to know how
He feels and how committed He is to them. He wants them to BE JOYFUL.
Of all the things Jesus could have asked, He asked that they might be joyful. He
could have said He hoped they would be serious or studious, or militant. But instead
He wants His people to be joyful. He wants us to be characterized by laughter rather
than solemnity. He desires that our focus be the RESURRECTION, not the
CRUCIFIXION. He knows that people are drawn to the joyful rather than the sad.
Which are you?
c) Thirdly, Jesus asks: “I do not pray that you should take them out of the world,
but that you should keep them from the evil one.” Jesus foresaw that life would
not be easy for his apostles. Many times, in fact, he forewarned them that the
opposite would be nearer the truth. He told them that they would be hated by some
people, just as he was hated by some people. But what is interesting to note is that
Jesus did not pray that they might be spared trials and sufferings, but that they might
remain faithful in spite of them. He did not offer a release from problems but the
strength to cope with them. We could learn from this. Often we think that God has
abandoned us when we run into troubles.
It is wrong to blame God for our troubles. We are well able to manufacture them for
ourselves. But God is the one to whom we turn in out troubles, for comfort, strength,
patience and hope, and he will not disappoint us. We do not have to beg him or bribe
him. All we have to do is admit that we cannot manage on our own.
This attitude and approach is illustrated very beautifully in the famous psalm 23: The
Lord is my Shepherd. One verse of it goes like this:
Even if I should walk in the valley of darkness
No evil will I fear
For you are there with your crook and you staff;
With these you give me comfort. (Ps 23:4)
Notice that it does not say that the person who puts his trust in God will be spared the
“dark valley”, but that even in the middle of it, he will not fear because God will help
him make his way through it. This is how Jesus prayed. This is how we too should
pray. Besides, without pain no real growth or Christian maturity is possible. Our
Christian faith is not a vaccination against pain and difficulties, as some preachers
would want us believe. On the contrary it is an assurance that in the middle of these
sure difficulties, God will not abandon us.
We pray then, not to be spared trails, but rather that with God’s help we will enable to
cope with the trials life send us.
d) Finally, Jesus prays: ‘sanctify (consecrated) them by the truth; your word is
truth.’ (Jn 17:17) The word “sanctify” means to “set apart”. It refers to the process
of being set apart for God’s usage. He wants us to be holy, to be more like Jesus, in
our everyday life. We become more like Jesus through our exposure to the truth. We
learn the truth by reading the Bible.
Here is the prayer that Jesus prayed for His disciples. The things He calls us to are
not things we can do in our own strength. We need His help. We must believe and
trust in his Word and his love for us.
If someone believes in Him:
• He/she is looking forward not looking back in his/her life? He/she focuses more on
his/her potential rather than past failure? He/she must let go of the past and look
• He/she must be working to maintain harmony rather than destroy.
Friendships are some of the most precious things we have. You have no better
friend than Jesus. Jesus is praying for you, just like He prayed for His disciples. Stay
close to Him. He will stay with you for the rest of the journey. He will make sure you
make it home alright.