THE LORD’S PRAYER, PART 1
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
— John 17:1-5, ESV
In daily life and weekly worship, we pray the Lord’s Prayer. It was given by the Lord Jesus Christ, to His first disciples, to give them a model prayer. Gospel writers Matthew (ref. 6:9-13) and Luke record it (ref. 11:2-4).
But it cannot be the Lord’s prayer, personally, literally, for it contains a clause that asks for forgiveness of trespasses, or sins. Jesus never trespassed or sinned, so He could never pray this prayer in its entirety.
There is a true Lord’s prayer that takes up the entire seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John. Some call it the Lord’s Prayer because Jesus prayed every piece, personally, powerfully. Some call it the High Priestly Prayer, since Jesus earnestly interceded for Himself, His immediate disciples, and His future followers. The true Lord’s prayer is a model prayer in its own right, one we should supremely admire and stridently follow.
We will examine our Lord’s Prayer in three parts, the part Jesus prayed for Himself (vs. 1-5), the part Jesus prayed for His first disciples who were the Apostles (vs. 6-19), and the part Jesus prayed for every Christian to come between then and now (vs. 20-26). Here is the Lord’s Prayer, part one, which addresses five subjects in five verses.
Glory (vs. 1)
Jesus “lifted up His eyes to Heaven” and prayed. We tend to bow our heads and close our eyes to pray. Jews in Jesus’ day did the opposite. The posture does not matter as much as the prayer.
The occasion is “the hour has come.” The virgin birth is history. The sinless life is about to end. Atoning death is imminent. Resurrection and return to Heaven will follow. The gospel will soon be fully told, and we have arrived at the crossroad.
“Glory” is the first theme. The word is found five times in the first five verses of the prayer. There is glory in what Jesus is about to do, give up His life as a ransom for many, then take it up again and lead the many to Heaven in His train. God prays to God that God will get the glory.
“Glory” can be defined in various ways. The Old Testament “kabod” meant weight, worth, authority, importance. The New Testament equivalent, in noun form “doxa” and verb form “doxazo,” means the same with the added dimension of deep thought that requires decisive action.
Jesus is praying in effect, that the life He has lived and the death He is about to die will make people think and act in such a way as to make God the most valued, the most influential, the most important person in the universe. This part of Jesus’ prayer is answered every time someone believes the gospel and commits their life to Christ. I hope you are an answer to the Lord’s prayer.
Sovereignty (vs. 2)
The plot is plain in the greatest story ever told, the gospel of Jesus Christ. He came to us, He died for us, He rose again and is with us. Those who believe will be saved from sin and death and enjoy abundant and everlasting life.
To fully appreciate any story, however, you must understand the background. The background behind the salvation of God is the sovereignty of God. Sovereignty speaks of “authority over all,” all people, all things, especially the things that pertain to the salvation of people.
Jesus is praying as He prepares to die as an atonement for sinners. But Jesus knows the number of sinners saved is specific, or limited. Christ’s sacrifice is a limited atonement, the benefits of which are limited to those chosen by God, those Jesus prayed as “given Him” to save.
Jesus prayed what He preached. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (6:44); and, “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (6:65). For more information on the subject of God’s sovereignty in salvation, read Romans and Ephesians, then the entire Old Testament, then the rest of the New Testament. Full sovereignty and limited atonement are sound doctrines of Scripture, and they are poured out here in the Lord’s prayer.
Of course, also included in both testaments of the Bible is the promise, “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (ref. Joel 2:32; Romans 10:13). Anyone. Anytime. Amen. Just know, however, if you are one of the “whoever,” you chose Jesus because He first chose you (ref. John 15:16). You love Jesus because He first loved you (ref. 1 John 4:19). You were able to cry out to God in repentance and faith because He first cried out to the Father in prayer for you, right here, in the Lord’s prayer.
Eternity (vs. 3)
God’s promises and God’s prayers come with a guarantee. Earthly guarantees and warranties all expire eventually, but not God’s. The salvation that the Father promises, which Jesus is praying about, is good for “eternal life.” Once again the recipients are specific and limited.
The number of those who get to spend eternity with God in Heaven is not known to any man, but I am afraid that number is much smaller than most people think. It does not include all of the eighty percent of the people in the world who believe in God. It does not include all of a third of the world’s population that claims to be Christian. It does not include all of the fourteen million Southern Baptists who walked an aisle, prayed a prayer, and asked Jesus to come into their hearts.
The only people who will receive salvation and enjoy eternal life with God are those Jesus prayed for here, those who “know” (“gnowsko”), God through Christ. This is a deep word. It speaks of a gift of deep knowledge, understanding, and comprehension that brings one into a deep personal relationship between the giver of the knowledge and the one who comes to know him.
An early offshoot of Christianity called Gnosticism took this truth to idiotic and heretical extremes, and their followers can still be found in the modern “word of faith” movement. It claims God gives secret knowledge to only special people that enables them to evolve into a higher plain of being and blessing. They are all wrong, but half right.
God does give knowledge, understanding, comprehension that He is God and we are not, and there is a chasm between the two. He gives us knowledge, the gospel, which states the bridge between the chasm is the cross of Christ. His Spirit gives us knowledge of the seriousness of our sin, the pure righteousness of Jesus Christ, and the judgement we can avoid through repentance and faith in Christ. Eternal life ensues, life based on knowledge and experience with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord who prayed this prayer.
Finality (vs. 4)
We must remember that the Lord is praying because “the hour has come.” It is time for Jesus to die, and He knows it, and in doing so He will “accomplish the work,” which is why we often call Christ’s death on the cross His finished and perfect work, and why Jesus declared later on this day and in this Gospel, “It is finished” (ref. 19:30).
You and I cannot do what Jesus did, exactly. We were not virgin born, we have not lived sinless lives, so we cannot offer a perfect sacrifice for our, or anyone else’s, sins. But we can do what Jesus prayed about doing here, we can glorify God by doing and finishing whatever work on earth He has called us to do. Faith comes first, but works do follow, and they should be finished.
Jesus died for the gospel. We must live for the gospel. We must live in loving obedience to God, so that others will come to love and obey God. We must regularly worship God, so that others will come to worship God. We must put God first in our family and vocation, so that others in our family and affected by our vocation will put God first. We must so believe the gospel that others will believe the gospel, and keep God-centered until the final day of our earthly lives. That’s finality, that’s finishing the work, that’s something to pray about, just as Jesus did.
Glory (vs. 5)
The fifth part of this part of the Lord’s prayer ends where the first part began, in glory. At the beginning of the prayer, glory is a verb, an action, the accumulation of a living a life and dying a death. In the end, it is a noun, a place, “in your own presence,” the presence of God. If you live your life for the glory of God you will end up in glory with God.
“Glory” is another name for Heaven. There is a place called Heaven, and it is glorious. It existed before earth. It will outlast the present condition of this planet. It is all of the things Jesus is praying about in the opening part of the Lord’s prayer. It is costly, exclusive, wonderful beyond words.
It is something the Lord prayed about and I pray about every day. In my prayers I mention every member of our family by name, and usually the names of our church family, and I ask God to be with us on earth, then bring us all to Heaven. It is a simple prayer based on the Lord’s prayer, and it does not all that long to pray.
I do not think that just because I pray for a person they will get to Heaven. But I believe if Jesus prayed for them, right here during His last day on earth, they will. The Lord Jesus Christ prayed for Himself and His followers. Does the Lord’s prayer include you?