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Father for the redemption of mankind. In conclusion, he reverts to what he had before said; that as he came forth from the Father, and was come into the world; so he was about again to leave the world, and go to the Father.
His knowledge of what passed in their minds had been so plainly manifested by this unasked explanation of his former words, that the disciples were greatly struck with it, and professed that this was of itself sufficient to convince them that he “knew all things, and that he came forth from God.” The reply of Jesus is pregnant with affection and pity, consolation and reproof. For while he heard with satisfaction this honest expression of their hearts, he saw their weakness with compassion, and checked their confidence with the gentlest reproof, foretelling that they would be separated every man to his own, and would leave him alone : and “yet he would not be alone, because the Father was with him.” These things our Saviour said to his chosen disciples, that they might have peace in him ; that in the midst of the troubles that would beset them, they might still maintain their faith unshaken, and enjoy the present satisfactions of a religious mind, and the future promise of eternal happiness. “Be of good cheer" therefore, saith he, and learn of me; learn to disregard the afflictions of this life, as he, the Author and Finisher of their salvation, set them an example; for, added he, “I have overcome the world.”
The seventeenth chapter contains that fervent and affectionate prayer of Jesus to the Father in behalf of his disciples, whom he was going to leave. It may be regarded as the last solemn act, the dying benediction of our Saviour, immediately preceding his apprehension. His very attitude is brought before us, when he is described as “lifting up
his eyes to heaven.” The manner in which God the Son addresses the Father; his zeal for the glory of God; the resignation, as it were, of his commission, and the account he renders of his office, and of the instructions he had given to his Apostles ; his regard for them; his supplication on their behalf, that they may be sanctified, and confirmed in the faith, and enjoy the favor of God; these constitute the interesting topics of this prayer, which is unexampled in kind, in purpose most gracious, most affecting from the occasion, and most eminent from the person who delivered it.
Throughout St. John's gospel it may be observed, that God is seldom mentioned under any other name than that of the Father. This is the title by which Christ has taught us to address him in the Lord's prayer; and which he himself employs on the occasion before us. And no doubt it is designed to soften his severer attributes of power and justice by the endearing image of parental love, more especially exhibited in the gospel dispensation.
Ver. 1. “ The hour is come,” that is, the appointed time was now arrived, when Jesus was to close his ministry, and complete the mighty scheme of redemption, by the offering of his own body on the cross. He therefore yields himself up a willing sacrifice, that the glory of God may more and more abound by the establishment of true religion, and that covenant of grace, by which as many as believe in God, and in Jesus Christ, should obtain eternal life.
Ver. 4. Jesus professes before God that in all things he had studied to glorify him on the earth. “ And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self,” let thy glory embrace me, as in the beginning, when “ the Word was with God,” before the foundation of the world. He had already made known to his disciples the salvation of God; and they had received his word, and known, and believed, that he “ came out from God, and that God did send him." It is for these his apostles that he now particularly offers up his prayers, animated by the near approach of his crucifixion, and a full sense of the troubles which awaited them; that when they should be left in the world without him, they might be maintained in the true faith, and united as one body, under one head, Jesus Christ. These things he spake for their satisfaction, that they might not be amazed at his leaving them, but might have their joy in the Gospel perfected by the contemplation of his glory with God in heaven. Hc prays not that his apostles should be taken out of the world, but that God of his goodness would preserve them from the corruptions of the world. They are not of the world,” that is, they have been taught to “set their affections on things above, not on things in the earth ;" even as Jesus had himself despised all worldly goods. But do Thou, says he, purify
them from the dross of the world, sanctify them with the spirit of true religion, which thou hast revealed through thy Son.
Ver. 19. For their sakes did he present himself an holy victim, that they might be sanctified through him, according to the truth which he had declared to them. And he prays not for his apostles only, but for us also, as many as should be converted to the faith through the preaching of the apostles and their successors; that all Christians may form one body, one church, united in spirit and in truth, as the Father is united to the Son, and the Son to the Father; that the whole world may believe Jesus Christ to have been sent by God, and that his apostles enjoy the special favor of God; for which purpose Christ had communicated to them those spiritual powers, and that prospect of eternal glory, which God had given him, and of which he prays that they also may be made partakers in heaven.
“O righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee,” those who are addicted to the things of this world cannot understand the dispensations of God, cannot love him as they ought. But Jesus had not so instructed his disciples. He had taught them the knowledge of the truth, and would confirm it by