jesus' last days
The Gospel of John ends similarly to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John gives a detailed account of the arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. He also gives account of multiple interactions Jesus has with the disciples following His resurrection but before His bodily ascension into heaven. Before working through the recounting of the final moments of Jesus’ life, John 17 captures what is known as “The High Priestly Prayer.”
This is the longest of Jesus’ recorded prayers. In it, Jesus prays for Himself (John 17:1-5). He prays for His disciples (John 17:6-19). Finally, Jesus prays for the future Church, all those who will come to believe and place their faith in Him (John 17:20-26). Ultimately, Jesus’ prayer is an amazing picture of His heart for the salvation of humanity. He preached about it, He has prayed about it, and now He will willingly give His life for it.
Whereas Luke began his Gospel by stating the intent of his work, John ends his with a similar statement: “...but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31). While all four of the Gospels provide a historical picture of the man, Jesus of Nazareth, their intent goes far beyond historical articulation to eternal transformation. Reading the Gospels should not merely fill our heads with facts about Jesus, but should fill our hearts with the knowledge of and faith in God’s ultimate redeeming work to save humanity from their sin by the life, death, and resurrection of His Son.
NEW TESTAMENT VISUALIZED
THE HIGH PRIESTLY PRAYER
John 17:1-9, 11, 20-23
FELLOWSHIP OF BELIEVERS
Jesus remains faithful to His disciples to the end. One of His last acts was to pray for them and also to pray for those who would believe through their message. What was Jesus’ primary prayer for His disciples? It was that they would be one even as Jesus and the Father were one. That is a beautiful picture of the unity that God desires for His Church. He desires all barriers to be broken down and that nothing will hinder the fellowship we have because we are in Christ. This is the ultimate picture of the family ingredient, Fellowship of Believers.
When Jesus prayed for those who would believe through the disciples’ message, who did that include? Hallelujah, it included us! As the gospel message spreads outward, it also spreads from one generation to the next. God’s ideal plan is for children to learn the Gospel through their parents and then pass it to their children. Do you know the truth of Jesus’ grace? Are you sharing His wonders with your children? Pray for this amazing chain reaction to happen just as Jesus prayed!
- When Jesus dies on the cross things look dark. It looks like Satan is winning. Jesus prays in John 17:1 that the Father would glorify the Son! What happens after Jesus dies that glorifies the Son?
- When Jesus prays for His disciples to be one, He is saying that He wants them to put each other ahead of themselves, not fight, and to work together well. Why would this be important for the disciples?
- Do you ever have a hard time not fighting with your siblings or with your friends? What can you do after a fight to work things out?
Activity 1: Arm Link Game
Link arms together. Challenge: When you say "Go", each person should start moving as fast as they can without UNlinking arms. It will be obvious that discussion is needed for your family to work together to move in any one direction. Try walking in a circle. Take turns deciding who will direct the group. With arms still linked, go to the kitchen and fix a snack for everyone. Discuss how important it is to stand TOGETHER during temptations and struggles. For added fun, try this together with small group families. Discuss what it will look like to stand together as a small group. Talk on a kid level but also as adults. How can you, as parents, be there for each other’s families?
Source: Carol Williams
Activity 2: Puzzle Pieces
Find a simple puzzle that is appropriate for your family’s age (20 pieces max). Before devo time begins, hide puzzle pieces in a room. Challenge: working together, find all the puzzle pieces and put them together in the quickest time possible. Added twist: write on the back of the puzzle pieces where a snack is hidden. If you cannot find a piece or two, discuss what happens when we can’t work out disagreements in a Christ-honoring way.
Small Group Discussion
- What examples are there to follow or promises to claim?
- Jesus describes those for whom He is praying for. He describes them both from God’s perspective and from humanity’s. What is the divine perspective? What is the human perspective? (Jn 17:6-11)
- In verses 12-19, what is the primary request in Jesus’ prayer for His apostles? Jesus gives several reasons for this, what are they?
- What is His desire for those who believe? How is Christian unity portrayed today? What can we do to be obedient to Jesus’ request and prayer for unity? (Jn 17:20-26)