John 17 is Jesus’ last major time of prayer before his death. “Father, the hour has come… I am coming to you now..” are words that almost sound like a debriefing before the final stretch. As you read the passage, you get the sense that Christ is looking back over the course of his life in review:
1: The hour has come
2: I have accomplished the mission you gave me
3: I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me…
4: I pray that they would be one
5: I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…
Is it at all surprising that the primary focus of Jesus’ mission on earth comes down to 12 ordinary men? As David Platt writes in his bestseller, Radical, Jesus’ plan was to revolutionize the world, but in order to do that, he didn’t aim for the multitudes. Instead, he knew that if he could revolutionize the hearts of a few, they would in turn revolutionize the hearts of others in the same way.
Looking back on his entire life and mission, Jesus does NOT mention the miraculous signs and wonders he has performed. Nor does he focus on the crowds he preached to, how he has shamed the wise, brought good news to the poor, etc. All those things are good and true, but don’t seem to occupy his mind at this moment. Instead, three years of non-stop God-given ministry on this planet all boil down to his investment in 12 people. And if we would follow Jesus, then our mission is the same – to make disciples in the manner He has demonstrated (Matthew 28:18-20; John 4:19-20).
Sometimes I have asked the question “Am I really following Jesus?” Not a question of salvation, as though it depended on works, but more a question of whether I lived for God’s purposes, or my own. If you’ve ever wondered the same thing, then perhaps the answer can be found through another question:
Suppose you only had a matter of hours to live. You are now looking back on your life and going to God in this one final prayer. What would be the focus of your prayer? Would you highlight your major accomplishments? Fond memories? Successful business ventures?
Or would your thoughts be consumed by the people into whom you have poured time, love, and energy for the sake of Christ’s mission on earth?
Would your primary concern be whether or not you lived a full enough life? Or would it be whether or not the Lord’s name will continue to be manifested through the people you have manifested it to? I believe that when we truly discover our purpose in life as carrying out Christ’s mission, that purpose will become the fabric of our lives, far above our concern for self. I should also note that manifesting the Lord’s name implies far more than merely telling someone about Jesus. It involves deep relationship. It involves time, and patience. And it involves a self-giving love. Ironically, it is in this giving that we experience the most abundant life.
So in those final moments, looking back on a life and talking to God, what would your prayer be?
Are there people in your life right now whom you have intentionally chosen to invest in? Is your prayer that Christ would be manifested in their hearts through you so that they will turn and do the same for others?