Before the final conflict of the cross is engaged, one final ministry remains for Jesus to perform: the vital work of prayer. In John 17, He prays first for himself, secondly for his original band of disciples, and lastly he prays for us (those who believe in him through their word).
This is the most wonderful prayer that ever rose from this earth to the throne of God, and this petition is the most wonderful in Jesus’ entire prayer. It is impossible that this prayer should go unanswered. If the sheep are in Christ’s hand and in the father’s hand, they shall never perish.
Jesus opens the window of his heart in this prayer to his Father. We see an ardent yearning for our presence as he prays: “Father, I desire that they also whom you gave me may be with me where I am.”
One of the strongest instincts of the human soul is the longing to be with those you love. How gut wrenching when death comes and tears away from your embrace those whom you have dearly loved! Well, our divine Redeemer is our Elder Brother, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh; and there in the heavens He feels the pulse of those human affections of which we are so distinctly conscious, and breaks out — “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am.”
Prayer is the language of desire. Prayer reveals the deepest longings and desires of a person’s heart. This prayer reveals what is truly most near and dear to Jesus.
What is Jesus’ ultimate desire for you? Jesus desires for you to be with Him. “With me” is the language of love. The beloved longing for his lover’s presence. There is nothing that can equal the indescribable tenderness of Jesus’ final request. It is the foundation to Jesus’ promise in John 14:3 – “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
As Jesus comes to the climax of the cross in referring to himself, Jesus prays “not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36), but now, when referring to his followers, he prays “I will (desire) that …” His concern for us is greater than his concern for himself.
What does this prayer mean? When are earthly journey is done, we shall go to be with Jesus forever. It is a certain reality that you shall one day soon be with Jesus Christ. You may have many enemies opposing you on your way to glory. Satan desires to have you, like he did Peter, that he may sift you like wheat. Your worldly friends will do all they can to hinder you. Still you shall be with Christ.
He does not ask for you to be with him merely because that is what is best for you, or simply because it is the right thing to do, but because that is his heart’s aspiration. This is what he longs for! And so he asks his Father for it!
For whom does Jesus desire this? Look at verse 20 – “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.” According to verse 24a, those who believe in Christ are those whom the Father has given to the Son.
One of the sure marks of all that were given to Christ is that they come to Jesus and believe. Have you come to Christ? Has your heart been opened to receive him? Has Jesus Christ been made precious to you?
Let the words of Robert Murray M’Cheyne dissolve your heart with thankfulness:
In truth, Christ cannot lack you. Heaven would be no heaven to him, if you were not there.” You are his crown of beauty (Isaiah 62:3). You are the apple of his eye (Deuteronomy 32:10), his treasured possession (Exodus 19:5), his portion (Deuteronomy 32:9), and his bride (Revelation 21:9).