How Jesus Prayed for Himself
Is it biblical to pray for yourself? Jesus did! His prayer in John 17:1-5 gives us a model for how we should pray for ourselves. Drew Anderson writes:
Jesus starts His prayer with a request for the Father to glorify Him. He then moves to praying for His disciples and their actions within the world. Finally, He prays for the unity of all those who might believe in Him unto the salvation of their souls. This prayer is nestled at the end of His life and conclusion of His public ministry–which only lasted approximately three years. All throughout His public ministry, His message was consistent and clear, “…a kingdom is coming.” Listen to His words as He began His ministry…
“…Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven is near.”
The problem for those who were hearing this message then, as well as for those of us today is that no one is able to enter into this kingdom because of its high standards of entry. The gate isn’t swung open for anyone to just drop in. No, no, there is a standard of righteousness required for any and all people. In other words, you have to be as righteous as God to enter His kingdom. And that’s where and why Jesus entered our world.
Thus, God, in His wisdom, sent His Son into our world so that through His perfect–righteous–life, He could offer Himself for us who are not righteous, in order to stand as a substitute in our place–paying the penalty for all our sin (incidentally, a penalty is incurred, because the Law or standard has been broken–by everyone. God doesn’t turn His head or wink at anyone breaking His standards). And so, the result of His perfect–righteous–life sacrificed on behalf of (or in the place of) unrighteous people means that His righteousness is now available to any who—by grace through faith—believe that His sacrifice (dying on the cross) was for them in particular–and they accept and believe that this is God’s only provision made for them in order to be a part of His kingdom. No law to keep. No standard to maintain. No sin to avoid. It’s a simple yet God-sparking recognition of who you are in light of who God is, and a turning from depending upon yourself to be righteous (i.e. trying your best to be good), and turning to God’s provision–Jesus.
The standard (or Law of God) of entry into God’s kingdom is not intrinsically bad or an impossible requirement handed down by a hateful god, but was rather given because of transgressions that served as a tutor until Jesus came, as well as pointed (as a copy and shadow) to its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus. And so, Jesus spent His earthly ministry preaching about the coming kingdom, as well as keeping its standard of entry (the Mosaic Law) for us! In the meantime, He trained His disciples for His departure.
And, it was at the end of this training–just before Jesus’ sacrifice for all humanity–that John’s gospel provides insight into a most intimate moment of…The Prayer of Jesus.
Jesus’ Prayer for Himself
“Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
Jesus begins His prayer acknowledging that His life—His purpose—has reached its final point. He thus requests that God glorify Him as a result of the completion of His earthly work in fulfilling the kingdom’s standards (God’s Law) perfectly. This glory request is not strange for Christ to ask of the Father, because He had previously (and eternally) dwelt in the same glory with the Father before the world existed as the second person of the Trinity. Since Jesus emptied Himself of this glory by becoming a servant and sacrifice in order to fulfill the kingdom’s standards (or Law), He is now requesting that it be restored. In other words, Jesus is stating in so many words that all of history has pointed to this moment, and its ultimate fulfillment is now reaching its apex. Mankind’s righteousness has always been short of God’s righteousness, and as history has unfolded this reality has only proven its point. Therefore, Jesus–the God-man–came to deal with it, and to offer His life of righteousness to all who are unrighteous, so that those who are unrighteous could enter into His kingdom without fear of its perfect righteous standard. Therefore, the prayer of Jesus begins with profound importance–God is dealing with mankind’s failure…Jesus is proclaiming this new reality for all of humanity…
Thus, Jesus prays…
My mission is reaching its completion…
Restore my glory…
Amen and Amen.
How Does This Apply To Us Today?
Because Jesus ended perfectly what He began (thus fulfilling His mission on earth), you and I now have hope for life after death, as well as purpose (and mission) in (and for) our life today. Our Lord–King Jesus–is not a defeated god, but One who reigns in all His glory, and who stands in our place–ever mediating on our behalf. That’s our God…that’s our Lord…that’s our King, Jesus! Mission fulfilled. Glory restored. Amen!
Therefore, worship. Worship your King Jesus who forever receives worship! Worship Him, and let the world see you do it!
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