As Jesus approached Jerusalem for the Passover celebration He knew that His time was short, the hour when opposition to His ministry would reach its climax was fast approaching. But Jesus would share one last Passover supper with His disciples. In those final moments with those who were closest to Him, the last prayer of Jesus reveals what was important to Him. This is what He wanted to say again, what He wanted the disciples to remember, and what He wanted us to know!
Where was the last prayer of Jesus?
On the fateful night of Jesus’ betrayal, He shared a last meal with His disciples. This was the Passover supper, and they were in the upper room of a house in Jerusalem. The gospel of John gives us the most detailed account of what occurred at that time.
The evening began with Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, this was the lasting impression that He wanted to leave with them. Jesus was setting an example for His disciples, and for us, of humility and the willingness to serve one another even with the most menial tasks.
After they had shared the Passover meal together Jesus predicted His betrayal by Judas. Jesus knew that at the time of His arrest the disciples would flee and Peter would soon deny ever knowing Him. But His final words are ones of love, with no condemnation. Jesus was not going to leave His followers alone, and promised to send the Holy Spirit to be with us forever.
“I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now; let us leave.”John 14:30-31
Jesus and the disciples prepare to leave the upper room and make their way to the Mount of Olives and the garden of Gethsemane. It is at this time that Jesus shares His final thoughts before His arrest, and the last prayer of Jesus is recorded.
What did Jesus say in His last prayer?
Jesus’ farewell prayer is found in John chapter seventeen where it is broken down into three clear sections. This is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus and is sometimes called His ‘High Priestly Prayer’. Now we know the setting of Jesus’ final prayer let’s explore the content and the clear message of His words:
Jesus Prays for Himself
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”John 17:1-5
The last prayer of Jesus begins with a look up to heaven. This final prayer begins with the same pattern as the prayer Jesus taught His disciples at the beginning of His ministry. The familiar prayer, the one that we all know:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”Matthew 6:9-10
Prayer is all about relationships, and Jesus directs His prayer to God our Heavenly Father. The time had now come for Jesus to fulfil His role – and He prayed to be glorified. Jesus’ glory is forever intertwined with the glory of the Father, they are linked together. Jesus had glorified God through His obedient work on earth but He knew what now lay ahead and was petitioning the Father.
Here Jesus predicts His sacrificial death on the cross with the plea that God will glorify Him. This is through His resurrection from the dead, totally destroying the power of Satan. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, He offers the gift of eternal life to all who believe in Him. The shame of the cross is turned into a triumphant victory bringing glory back to Father God!
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Jesus Prays for His Disciples
The major part of the last prayer of Jesus is for His disciples. This is found in John 17:6-19 . The disciples were chosen by God and given to Jesus as His closest companions throughout His ministry. These men left everything to follow Jesus. They were the ones who believed in the word of God and accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah.
Jesus prays for God’s protection over the disciples after His death. During His ministry Jesus had kept them all safe – apart from Judas Iscariot, the one who was doomed to destruction. Jesus’ concern is for the protection and safe-keeping of the disciples when He is no longer with them!
“I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. 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.”John 17:11
Jesus not only prays for the disciples protection but also for unity among them. His desire is that they will be one in love, purpose, and service. He affirms in prayer what He had been teaching throughout His ministry. The true mark of being a disciple of Jesus is the bonds of unity among His followers. This is the witness of the power of God’s transforming love when disparate people are brought together with a common aim.
Jesus Prays for All Believers
Jesus’ final prayer also included all of us! The closing section (John 17:20-26) of Jesus’ last prayer before His death was looking ahead to all who would believe in Him in the future.
The message of salvation, the gospel, and the good news, would go out into all the world. The love of God is for whoever chooses to believe and follow Jesus. In His prayer for us, Jesus was saying that the love that Christians demonstrate for one another should have an effect on unbelievers. Once again Jesus emphasizes the importance of love and unity among His followers to bring honor and glory to God.
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”John 17:22-23
The foundations of Jesus’ glory are found in His life, and death, characterized by humble service and sacrificial love. This is the example that Jesus gave us, and the standard that He set. In His final words, Jesus reminds us once again that it is the love that we have for one another that brings God glory and honors Him! This is what He wanted to pass on to us…
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
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