Today we read the final words of Jesus before his arrest. John, his closest companion, records it in wonderful detail. It began with the washing of the disciples’ feet (chapter 13), to the end of chapter 17 – for chapter 18 starts with, “When Jesus has spoken these words he went out with his disciples … where there was a garden”.
Chapter 17 contains the climax to his teachings; it is a prayer to the Father which John heard. Christ’s teaching had included the wonderful promise that “the Holy Spirit” described as a “Helper … even the Spirit of Truth” (14:16,17) would be given to them and this “Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (verse 26).
By this means John was able to record in detail the teaching that took place that evening, probably till after midnight. Jesus is praying for the unity of his disciples for at times there had been dispute among them as to who would be the greatest (Luke 9:36). Jesus says in his prayer, “… Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one” (verses 11,22). This shows that there is perfect unity (not a Trinity) between Jesus and God, which true followers must also strive to have.
Our Saviour’s prayer acknowledges the “authority” he has been given “to give eternal life to all whom you have given him” (verse 2). He then says, “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (verse 3). This is to “know” in the sense of developing a real living relationship with Jesus and his Father, developed from a heart-felt ‘knowing’ of His word.
Finally, “I do not ask for these (the disciples) only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they all may be one … so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (verses 21,22). And so the disciples became Apostles (which developed the meaning ‘sent forth’ – see Acts 1:25) and they were a team, there was no further dissension from jealousies between.
May we follow their example as we share the original gospel with others. Sadly the increasing spiritual darkness in our world is obscuring the light – so look at the challenging, but inspiring words of 1 John 1:5-7.