For his disciples, Jesus prayed:
- That the word given to them might bear fruit.
- That they might be protected and given a unity like that he and the Father shared.
- That they might experience joy like the joy he knew in relation to the Father.
- That they might be sanctified or made holy in the truth of God’s revealed Word.
For the disciples’ spiritual descendants, Jesus prayed:
- That the apostolic blessing of triune unity might extend to us.
- That we might be so indwelled that the presence of Christ in us is unmistakable.
- That we might go to be with Christ and share his glory.
- That God’s love might be in us, just as Christ’s presence might be in us.
Sproul rightly notes that this prayer of Christ on earth is a great picture (or preview) of his intercession in heaven. It is sometimes difficult to understand what it means when we read that Jesus intercedes for us (i.e. Rom. 8:34 and Heb. 7:25). But we do have a rich, clear, and comforting example of how Jesus intercedes for his people in John 17. The fact that Christ lives in heaven to make intercession for us, understood in light of John 17, gives us much confidence that he will indeed preserve us to the end. Satan tried to tear Peter from Christ’s side, but as Jesus said, “I have prayed for you [Peter] that your faith may not fail” (Lk. 22:31-32). Part of the good news of the gospel is that Jesus’ intercession is effective.
For the above quote, see R.C. Sproul, Renewing Your Mind, p. 149. If you’re interested in the book, I see right now you can get it on Amazon (used) for under $6.00 total.