John 17:17-26 – That They May Be One – The Upper Room Discourse Part 15

Dear Friends,

Greetings in Christ.

In this post, we come to the end of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples (and us) before going to the cross. Some have said John 17 is the ‘real’ Lord’s prayer. We also come to the end of the Upper Room Discourse. You may recall Satan was with them in the upper room (John 13:27); he probably thought his plan was coming together perfectly but Jesus turned Satan’s own plan against him (Pr 11:6; 1 Cor 2:8). Jesus was not worried by Satan’s schemes and we need not worry about his scheming either. Now as then, God is in control.

As our High Priest, Jesus closed his earthly ministry by praying for us. He first reported on the progress of his work, then prayed for his people. In our last two posts, we focused on John 17:17, the truth of the word. We also discussed the deterioration of free speech here in the West. Protected free speech is a mechanism that services and maintains the quality of public information. Free speech keeps the truth accessible to the common people. For a long time here in the US, we have had the God-given-rights of the First Amendment to protect us. (Our rights are not granted by the Constitution, mind you. Rather, the Constitution prohibits the government from taking our rights.) With that protection being stripped away from us by the powers that be, we must remember we answer to a higher power who says What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.

Give us understanding as we read thy word, Father, in Jesus’ name. Amen.


John 17:17-26
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Pastor Jon Courson writes, “Ephesians 4:15 says we are to speak the truth in love because love without truth is hypocrisy, while truth without love is brutality. You see, if I speak the truth without love, it’s like a fire without warmth. Who wants to be in a room on a cold night with light but no warmth? If I speak love without the truth, however, it’s like a blaze without light. And who wants to be in the dark? The idea is to have light and warmth. Unity [the main theme of the rest of John 17] is based on telling the truth in love — not always easy but absolutely necessary.” (1)

18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

The next time someone tries to stop you from sharing the truth, remember that you have been sent. You might even want to tell him the same thing Peter did: ‘You tell me, is it better that I obey God or that I obey you? What do you think God would say?’ (Acts 4:19)

19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

Our righteousness is in Christ and in his truth [word]. Whatever you may have done, however terrible it may be, the truth is that it has been washed away and replaced with the righteousness of Christ — if you have received Him by grace through faith. (Eph 2:8f) If you are trying to earn this righteousness on your own merit all bets are off. (Rom 10:3) Abiding in the truth nurtures and advances the process of sanctification (being set apart) throughout the life of the believer.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

That’s us!

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

This is truly an amazing passage; easy to profess yet hard to possess. Whatever a believing Christian looks like on the outside, she or he has God’s glory on the inside. (Jer 9:23f) Jesus’ prayer tells us the reason He gives us his glory is so we may be united in one accord. Jesus wants us to be united just as He is united with his Father. When the church is united it blesses Jesus and the Father. One of the biggest challenges for an evangelist is one of authority. People question whether we are really qualified to be sharing the truth of the word with them. Jesus said By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. That is what Jesus is praying for here before He goes to the cross. The cross ought to remind us that we are all guilty. Yet we look at another brother’s sin and it looks so bad on him. It doesn’t look so bad on me but it looks terrible on him. Then Jesus reminds me how patient He is with me and how He suffered, died, and rose again for my brother the same as He did for me. I can then forgive my brother and love him because Jesus prayed for God’s love to be in me just as it is Him (v 26). In verse 23, Jesus tells us that his Father loves us just as He does his Son — all of us. So I must remember, He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. I must remember, A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. I must remember, And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. I must remember, love shall cover the multitude of sins. I must remember, love Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

The Bible says that as believers, we comprise one body. (1 Cor 12) You would not hit yourself in the nose would you? Then neither should you smite another member of the body of Christ with your tongue. When we do that, the Bible says our tongues are set on fire of hell. (Jam 3:6) Jesus wants us to be united in one accord, that the world may know God sent Jesus; that the world may know God loves us as He loves Jesus (v 23). The opposite of unity is division, which is what Satan wants. Jesus wants unity, but not at the expense of the truth. (Matt 10:34; Gal 1:8) We cannot have fellowship with those who reject the truth.

This passage tells us something else: God sees us far differently than we see ourselves, far different than the way the world or our families see us. When Joseph’s brothers saw a bratty little self-righteous twerp, God saw the ruler of a nation. When David’s brothers saw a stuck-up little shepherd boy, God saw a king. When God looks at you, He sees the king or priest you will be in his kingdom when we are joined with Jesus for eternity. (Eph 5:32; Rev 1:6)

24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

This is a good verse to remember when a Christian is called back home.

25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
John 17:17-26


Jesus served us to the end and completed his work (John 17:4). The day will likewise come for each of us when we will have to give an account of our life and ministry on earth. May we be able to say to Jesus that we finished the work He gave us to do.

Jesus ends his prayer by reiterating that He wants the love the Father has for Him to be in us, even as He is in us. As Jesus gets closer to the cross we are seeing more of a focus on what really matters and how this world is of little importance in the grand scheme of things. Jesus did not pray for the world, but for those of us in the world who believe on Him (v 9). Jesus never sought the comforts the world has to offer, but only to rescue souls out of the world. Jesus is making a new world that will make this one look like the dirtiest rathole imaginable. (Isa 65:17; Rev 21:1) All that matters now is rescuing people out of this world to be ready for the new and improved world Jesus is making for us. We can do this in the power of the Holy Spirit based on all of the precious truths Jesus prayed for us in this chapter, but only if we keep his word (v 6; 14:23f).

In closing, as Christians, we have nothing to fear. The Bible tells us that Jesus is still praying for us (Heb 7:25), just as He prayed for us before going to the cross. We may be transitioning into the worst time in the history of the world (Matt 24:21), but Jesus was facing the worst torture in the history of the world. Instead of fearing, He set his face like a flint. (Isa 50:7) Knowing He would soon be nailed to the cross, Jesus instructed the disciples on the subjects of serving in selflessness, abiding in love, having joy, coming persecution, letting the Spirit lead, abiding in the truth, and unity in the body of Christ. Knowing they would soon feel lost without Him, Jesus’ message to the disciples was not to worry. He said Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. (Cf 1 Cor 15:52; 1 Thess 4:16-18; Tit 2:13) On the eve of his crucifixion Jesus was not worrying. Yet we often worry about anything and everything. Do you have the faith to trust our Father to deliver you as Jesus did? Just as Jesus turned Satan’s attack on Him into a great victory (1 Cor 2:8) Jesus is going to likewise turn the attacks of Satan on us into a great victory. We just have to trust Him.

Knowing He was about to be crucified, He said that He is now glorified (John 13:31). Jesus tends to look at things the opposite way that we do. In other words, oftentimes we need to invert our way of thinking to put things in their proper perspective. It has been said that today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. If Jesus was not worried about what He was facing, we do not have to worry about the things we are facing. (Isa 26:3; Matt 6:34; Phil 4:6) Yet for many, worry is an idol. Like all forms of idolatry, worry is a sin. Yes, Satan is active in the world today, just as he was in the upper room. But just as Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, turning the cross into the greatest victory in the history of mankind, soon Satan will be defeated once again, bringing in the kingdom age. We do not have to worry. We need to obey his new commandment to us. (John 13:34) We need to lay claim to the precious promises Jesus has given us in this amazing section of John’s Gospel. Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Greet one another with an holy kiss.


10 For we are his workmanship [Gk poema *], created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:10-22


Father, thank You for your unspeakable gift. Thank You for all the wisdom He imparted to us with his words from the upper room. We are truly rich. I pray all who read this post will trust in your Son and his mighty power to save us. Give us peace knowing that You are preparing a great deliverance and a marriage celebration that will be beyond anything words can describe. Direct our paths and give each of us the wisdom to make good decisions. Fill us with your Holy Spirit day by day, that we may love one another as you command us to, for we know, Father, that without love we are nothing. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Supply all our need and help us to be content with what we have. May our lights shine and help light the way for others. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


1 Jon Courson, Tree of Life Bible Commentary John – Volume 3, p 73.

* You are a poem written by God! The word for workmanship in Ephesians 2:10, is where we get our English word, poem.