I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
As He continues His prayer to the Father, Jesus has in mind particularly the company of His disciples, those who have continued with Him in His trials, who believed in His message and are now to be left behind to work for Him upon the earth.
First, we have the manifestation of the Father’s name. “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world” (v. 6). That wonderfully sweet and precious name Father came as a new revelation. The Fatherhood of God is not revealed in the same way in the Old Testament. He was a Father to Israel. When Malachi wrote, “Have we not all one father; hath not one God created us?” (Mal. 2:10), he referred not to God, in the first instance, but to Abraham. Advocates of the modern theory of the universal Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man often cite this passage as a proof text. But it is altogether beside the mark.
It remained for the blessed Lord to reveal the Father’s name, to show that God is the Father of each individual believer in His blessed Son. In olden days He made Himself known as Elohim, “the Creator”; Jehovah, “the God in covenant relation with men”; El-Shaddai, “the all-sufficient One, able to meet every need of His people”; and as God most high, “supreme Ruler of the universe.” But we have to come to the pages of the New Testament to get the revelation of the Father’s name from the lips and life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
You remember that word in John 1:14: “The Word [became] flesh, and [tabernacled] among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” As we become intimately acquainted with Him, we realize we are walking and talking with the Man who was the only begotten, living in unbroken fellowship with the Father. It is thus He made known the Father’s name. Do you want to know the Father’s heart? Get better acquainted with the Lord Jesus. “Show us the Father,” said Philip (14:8). Jesus answered, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?” (v. 9). It is not that He confounded the persons of the Trinity. He Himself distinguished them carefully when He commanded His disciples to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19). In the baptismal formula the persons are distinguished without denying the unity of the Godhead. But in Him we see the Father’s heart, the Father’s mind, and the Father’s character. He is Himself the exact expression of the divine character.
So He says, “I have manifested thy name [but not to everybody] unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world” (John 17:6a). What men are these? “No man can come to me, except the Father… draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (6:44). “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (v. 37). If I have come to Him, I am one of those whom the Father gave to the Son long before the world began.
I heard Sam Hadley say once in a great meeting in Oakland, California, after listening to a number of testimonies, “Many of you have been telling how you found Jesus. I have no such story to tell. I never found Him, for I was not looking for Him, but He found me and drew me to Himself from a life of sin and shame.” And he quoted the lines of the old hymn:
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
You have heard the story of the little boy who was asked by a Christian worker if he had found Jesus. Looking up in wonder, he said, “Please, sir, I did not know that He was lost. But I was, and He found me.” And so may every redeemed one say.
How precious to the heart of the Son of God must be the Father’s gift of His redeemed. He says, “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word” (17:6b). He will be able to say that of every one of us when He brings us home at last, in spite of all our blunders, our failures, and our sins. As possessors of the divine nature, there is in every Christian a desire to do the will of God and to keep His Word. One who lacks this has never been regenerated.
In verse 7 He says, “Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.” He takes the place of the distributor of the Father’s bounty, like Joseph and David. Both of these young men were sent by their fathers to minister to their brethren, and yet both of them were grievously misunderstood and rejected. But the Lord looks with joyous complacency upon those who receive the blessing He brought, knowing surely that He came out from God, and so they believed that God had sent Him.
For them He prays. It is not for the unsaved that our Lord is carrying on His High-Priestly intercession in heaven, but for those who have been given to Him out of the world. On the cross He prayed for sinners; in heaven, He prays for saints. How sweet the words, “All mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them” (v. 10). What perfect security and what blessed communion! In spite of all our failures, He will be glorified in all His own. For He will make even these failures a means of teaching us our weakness and helplessness, and our need of relying upon His unfailing love and power.
Literally, the word rendered “pray” here means “to make request.” Some day Jesus will make request concerning the world, and it will be given to Him as it is written in the Second Psalm: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the world for thy possession” (v. 8). Then He will take His great power and reign, when “the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ” (Rev. 11:15). Now He is taking out from among the nations a people for His name, and it is on behalf of these that He makes request to the Father.
These are bound up in the bundle of life with the Father and the Son. He says, “All mine are thine, and thine are mine.” Could anything be more precious? It is another way of saying what He had declared previously in John 10, when as the Good Shepherd He said of His sheep, “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (vv. 28-29). Every believer is held securely in the hands of the Father and the Son. We may well sing,
I’m safe in such confiding,
For nothing changes there.
If He had not said it Himself, we would never have dared assert that He is glorified in all His own. There has been such gross failure in many of us. We have followed afar off, so many times. Our careless ways and thoughtless words have brought dishonor upon His name many times.
But as He looks upon us, cleansed by His blood and born of His Spirit, He says of all who are saved, “I am glorified in them.” There is that in the life and experience of every Christian which is pleasant to Him and brings glory to His name. It is hard for our poor legal hearts to abide in a sense of what grace really means. In a general way we confess that we are saved by grace, justified freely by His grace, and that the same grace that saved shall carry us on to the end. But practically we are ever ready to seek to build up some claim of personal merit. The blessed fact remains that we are maintained by grace all along the way, and so there will be in each one of us that in which He will be glorified. It is His own work in us by the power of the Spirit that makes this a reality. His very intercession is to that end. He saves evermore because “he ever liveth to make intercession for [us]” (Heb. 7:25).