Listening to Jesus Pray - Part 1
The man Jesus Christ was the Word (logos) Incarnate (John 1 : 1 & 2). He was God and Man in one Person. The undivided union of the two perfect natures in Christ gave infinite value to His atoning work on the Cross and fits Him to be the Mediator between God and man. To deny this is to reject God the Almighty and His Son born of the virgin Mary (Luke 1:32).
To compare Him with mere mortals and deny that Jesus died for our sins, giving Himself a ransom and substitute which secures acceptance and peace with God and then rose again from the dead on the third day after His burial, is to deny that He is the Saviour of the World (John 3:16).
The Gospel of John
The Gospel of John was written by the Apostle John, brother of James and writer of the First, Second and Third Epistles of John and the Book of the Revelation. Although the author does not identify himself by name, never-the-less there is strong internal evidence that he was one of the two sons of Zebedee and an eye witness of Jesus Christ’ ministry and was present at the Last Supper (John 1:14; 13:23; 19:26; 21:20).
The external evidence for the Apostle John’s authorship was confirmed by Irenaeus (140-202 A.D.). It was written (probably between 80-98 AD) so as to witness to the historical reality of the Son of God incarnate in fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy and to call people to faith in Jesus Christ’s person and work as the Saviour of the world (John 3:16). John was an eyewitness of Christ’s glory (John 1:14) and he wrote so that, ‘you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God’ (20:30–31; see also 19:35).
The greatest prayer ever heard
The High-Priestly prayer of Jesus Christ is a recorded prayer directed by the Son to God the Father and into which readers ‘intrude’. In doing so, they stand on holy ground, because John 17 is one of the most wonderful and exciting portions in the whole of Scripture. It is spiritually profound, reaching depths we cannot plumb and heights we will never scale. It is the longest prayer of Jesus given to us—indeed, it is the longest prayer recorded in the New Testament.
We have many sermons, parables and conversations of Jesus recorded for us, but few prayers. Often in the Gospels, we are told that Jesus was in the act of prayer, but apart from John 17 and Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39), we are not told about the content of His intercessions except His cries while nailed to the cross. Thus, we have something most unique here in John 17. The prayer marks the end of Jesus’s earthly ministry and looks forward to the spread of the Gospel throughout the world by the Apostles and their successors.
Jesus our High Priest
Israel’s high priest was over all the other priests and could perform all the duties of the priesthood. However, he was especially chosen by God to represent the people as the sole mediator to stand before God on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). No other person was to take his honour and responsibility upon themselves (Heb. 5:2).
Moses, receiving special instructions (revelation), established this institution in Israel after the Exodus. This he relayed to the people in the Book of Numbers. The office, first conferred on Aaron, was normally hereditary and for life. Since the destruction of the Second Temple (70 AD), there have been no Jewish high priests, or national sacrifices. The Epistle of Hebrews argues for Christ’s superiority over Aaron and that His Priesthood is of far superior standing in the sight of God (Heb. 5:5-6).
It is important to note that the Aaronic priesthood was a type of the greater office yet to come in the person and work of Jesus Christ our prophet, priest and king (Heb. 7:11-12).
This study shows us what is true and authentic about Jesus’ High Priestly office in the light of His famous prayer. It takes us to the very heart of the Christian faith and demonstrates who the historical Jesus Christ really was, i.e. the Author and Finisher of our faith and without Him there is no Gospel, peace with God the Almighty, or heavenly blessings.
Rev Ian S McNaughton is presently serving as the Vice-Chairman of Barnabas Fund in the UK.
Photo by Hugues de BUYER-MIMEURE on Unsplash
For Other Articles by Rev Ian S McNaughton
Prayer - A Holy Weapon