The High Priestly Prayer

John 17: 1-26

On the walk to Gethsemane, close to midnight,
the fifteenth of Nisan

Somewhere between the Upper Room where they had celebrated the Passover and the garden of Gethsemane where He was later arrested, Yeshua’s intercessory prayer concluded His teaching ministry to His apostles. His priestly ministry, however, had not yet ended and Jesus moved steadily toward its completion in the atmosphere of prayer. It might have been at the highest point of the Temple Mount, as they paused for a few moments to survey its beauty lit up by the radiance of the Pesach moon; or in the heights of the Mount of Olives overlooking Zion, or perhaps even at the gate of the Garden itself.

This is the longest prayer in the Bible, although you could read it in three minutes. I think that’s a good indication of the length of public prayers. If you can’t pray what you need to pray in three minutes, then you’ve got too much to say!1468

This prayer was given in the shadow of the cross. All eleven talmidim were present and the Lord uttered a prayer that can perhaps best be described as the prayer of the great High Priest. After declaring: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (Yochann 16:33), I imagine Yeshua allowed a long silence to seal the moment. As His warnings and promises began to sink in, I can only imagine the apostles feeling of helplessness as they looked up at the full moon in the sky. How vulnerable they must have felt, knowing they would soon be without their Master, who had led them and protected them for the past three years! It was hard to believe that the time had passed so quickly. It seemed as if they could hardly remember the time before He entered their lives, summoned them to follow, and gave them purpose.

Jesus prayed for three things in this great high priestly prayer. First, He prayed for Himself and the success of His mission (Jn 17:1-5). Secondly, the Lord prayed for the protection of His apostles as they fulfilled their purpose after His departure (Jn 17:6-19). And thirdly, Christ prayed for the generations of believers who would follow Him as a result of the apostles' ministry (John 17:20-26).


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