Did you know Jesus prayed for you the evening before He was crucified?

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Crazy thought, huh?

Jesus didn’t say your name, but if you are a follower of Jesus, you were most definitely included in His prayer.

Jesus was praying there at the table where the Last Supper had just taken place.  What a strange night that must’ve been.  This prayer started in John 17, and this is not the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane but a different, intimate prayer the disciples would have heard. 

Bear in mind that Jesus didn’t pause in this prayer.  They didn’t stop and eat more.  He moved from (what we call) verse 19 directly into verse 20.  While we are breaking this up over weeks, the Lord Jesus prayed this in one sitting.

Turning the corner in this prayer, our Lord prays in John 17:20:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message…”

John 17:20, New International Version

Did you see it?!?

Jesus begins by saying He’s not just praying for those disciples sitting at that table with Him on this night. 

He extends His prayer down through time to “those who will believe in” Jesus “through their message.” It’s a good thing Jesus did this!  Dear Christian, that’s you and me!  Jesus prayed for us, also.

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There are some practical overtones to this as well.  The church of Jesus is constantly one generation from extinction.  All it takes for this movement of the Lord to die is for one generation of Christians to not reach out to the next generation and lead them to faith in Jesus—and I’m not just talking about age.

Consider the seven congregations addressed in the book of Revelation (Revelation 1-3).  Where are they now?  Those congregations are no longer in existence.  They died.  But the Church of Jesus is still here. It behooves us to pass along the faith passed to us. 

In the plan of God, the Church (in a universal sense) won’t die.  But with the disciples sitting around the table looking at each other on the night He said all this, it must’ve seemed very unlikely.

Still, the very prayer Jesus prayed predicted the success of their mission.  That mission would carry the message of Jesus to the world.  Jesus was very specific about the message they were to carry. It was the message they were given by Him.

This message would, in time, encompass the globe.  Only eleven Jewish men (and perhaps a few others) heard this prayer in the upper room that night. 

But through a glimpse into the future, the Apostle John (much older than he was in our present setting) recorded in Revelation 7:9-10 “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.  They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

Do you understand? Jesus was praying for us.  You and me.  This entire section of His prayer is meant for us as Christians who believe without seeing Him.  Praise the Lord!  Jesus was thinking of us!

And notice the subtlety of Jesus’ language.  He says, “my prayer is not for them [that is, the Apostles] ALONE.”  We are not placed beneath the Apostles in terms of importance, but instead, we are placed on equal footing.  We are so conditioned to think of the Apostles as super holy men, and even though they were great, they were not any better than what you are in terms of potential for Jesus.

They were just willing to leave it all to follow Jesus—and there were only eleven of them by this time.  Imagine what a few million professed Christians in the US (alone) could do today if we were willing to, in the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:24, “deny themselves and take up their cross and follow” Jesus. 

Do you think our corner of the world would look any different if we did?