Jesus healed the sick, freed the oppressed, and proclaimed good news to the poor (see Luke 4:18–19). Then, after three years, He approached the inaugural act of His priestly work: His death on the cross that would culminate in our atonement. At Passover, He knew the coming hours would bring the full wrath of God for the sins of the world upon Him. And yet, even in His anguish (see Luke 22:44), He prayed for all who were called by His name.
John records this prayer, beginning with Jesus’ request that the Father would glorify Him. The One who was with the Father from the beginning, equal with Him in power and glory, prays that He might again receive His rightful place of honor. For Christ’s followers, too, Jesus’ exaltation is our chief delight and the great purpose of our lives (v. 10).
It’s logical that Jesus’ prayer would move from Himself and His glory to His disciples and their good. His love for them is evident here. Though we might be tempted to think of the twelve disciples as ignorant, self-focused, and slow to believe, Jesus describes them tenderly. He calls them obedient, faithful, and teachable. He commends them for believing He was the promised Messiah. Jesus knew His disciples’ failings—He was about to die for them— but He also knew that they were the Father’s gift to Him (v. 6) and would soon share in His glory (v. 22).
This same love leads Christ to intercede for His disciples’ protection. The world, with its evil desires and prideful attitudes, is the enemy of God’s people, but Jesus continually intercedes (see 1 John 2:1-6). For the sake of His glory and the unity of His body, Jesus asks the Father to keep His followers safe.