I have given them your word
In the final hours of His life on earth, Jesus prayed for us in what came to be called ‘The Great High Priestly Prayer’, that takes up the whole of John 17. As Jesus prays for His disciples and all believers through them. He talks about God’s word, and when He does this, we need to understand what He is actually saying, and how it applies to us.
He starts in Verse 8:-
John 17:8 (ESV)
8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
Firstly Jesus talks to Father about passing on the words that Father had given Him. This indicates that Jesus understood that His teaching and interpretation of the scriptures was not His own ideas, but came from the very heart of God Himself. If nothing else it means that every word that Jesus spoke is divine revelation from God.
A little later Jesus puts two key words together they are ‘word’ and ‘truth’.
John 17:17 (ESV)
17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
When you think about it, John starts his gospel by introducing Jesus as ‘the Word’ , as in “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1.
He goes on in verse 14 to join ‘word’ and ‘truth’ together himself and say, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Later on of course Jesus would identify Himself as the living embodiment of truth in John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
It seems to me that Jesus’ prayer for us is that we would know Him as the living Word of God. That we would recognise that He is all truth, absolute truth. None of today’s relative concepts such as, “well I can accept that Jesus is truth to you, and that’s fine, but that’s your truth it’s not my truth.” Jesus does not allow any alternative read on this scripture or give that idea any currency. He is truth and there is no other competing truth or half-truth. This is one of the anchors for our soul. Something to tie the end of our rope to and hang on when our world is being shaken.
His purpose for us is this,
John 17:23 (ESV)
23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
The call then is to get to know the scriptures, the word of God, for yourselves. Get to know the Word and the Truth for yourself. It’s all very well that we love each other and believe that we are one, but unless our relationships are grounded in scripture and truth, they can fail at the first hint of dissent or misunderstanding of even foundational bible doctrine.
Bob Gass puts his own spin on the passage like this:-
Next, Jesus prayed that we would know the Word. Listen: “I have given them your Word” (John 17:14). Have you heard about the lady and the promise box? One morning she pulled out a verse which read, “And Judas went out and hanged himself.” Quickly, she pulled out another; it read, “Go and do likewise.” In despair, she pulled out another, and it read, “What thou doest, do quickly.” You may smile, but how much time do you spend in the Word?
Samuel’s mother brought him a new coat to the temple each year. Was that because the old one was out of style? No! It was because he was growing. (See 1 Samuel 2:26.) Are you still wearing that same old threadbare coat? If you are, you’re not growing! John said, “I write unto you young men, because the Word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:14, NIV). Peter wrote, “Desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). Paul said, “Brothers, your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing” (2 Thessalonians 1–3). What a testimony! D. L. Moody said, “A little learning will take a man away from God, but ‘full knowledge’ will bring him back.”
If you want to find God, you’ll find Him in the pages of His Word today. Pick it up and start reading!
 Bob Gass, A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), 258.
One reply on “His Second Prayer”
How true that we need to soak in God’s Word, what a difference it makes to our feelings about ourselves and our situation and about others and our relationship with them. We really miss out on so much when we neglect these deep and meaningful times with Him.