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Life of Jesus Christ in Its Historical Connexion and Historical Developement.
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§ 278. Christ’s Prayer as High-priest. (John, xvii.)

With a prayer Christ concludes this last interview with his disciples; with a prayer he prepares himself for the separation and the final conflict.

The import of the prayer is the same as that of the discourse. Conscious that his work (viz., to glorify God in man) on earth is finished, he prays the Father to take him to himself, and glorify him with himself. Not, however, with a selfish aim or selfish longings; it was to glorify the Father, and, what was inseparable therefrom, to impart the Divine life to mankind: “Glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee; as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.”749749   He considers those, and those only, as truly his own who follow the inward Divine call, the “drawing” of the Father. Cf. p. 138, 360. But as eternal life is only to be obtained by knowing the true God, revealed in Christ, he prays that this knowledge may be diffused among all men, and so eternal life be given to all.

Then, first, he prays for those who had already received this knowledge, and were to become instruments of its diffusion among men, As he is about to leave the world, and to leave the disciples alone in it, he commends them to the protecting care of the Father, to whom they are consecrated through him; that the Divine communion of life, which he had established, might be preserved among them. He commends them to His care, because the world, in whose midst they are, will hate them, since they are not of it. He does not ask their removal from the world; that would subvert the very work he had assigned them, the work of regenerating the world through the knowledge of God in Christ; he only prays that they may be inwardly separated from the world and its evil powers, and sanctified through the truth he had revealed; that his life, sanctified to God, and given up for them, might become the ground of their sanctification.

He then extends his prayer to all that may be br6ught to faith by their preaching (v. 20). He prays that they may be united in the communion of life with God which he had established; that by it they may testify of him; that thereby they might show forth the glory of the inner life given by him, and bear witness of that love of God (v. 23) which they had experienced through him. (The true communion of Christ’s disciples shows forth His glory, and the glory which He has imparted to them; the glory, namely, of their whole relation to God as children, secured for them by Him. The outward appearance is the reflection of the glory within.750750   In all time the spread of Christianity is most advanced by the power of the Christian life.) He then prays (v. 24) that all those who are “given to him” (already united with him—his glory al ready revealed in them) may be raised up to be where He is, to complete communion with him, to the beholding of his Divine glory (and this implies a share in that glory; for intuition and life coincide in the Divine).

This incomparable prayer of consecration for his own, and for all mankind, is closed with the words, “O Holy751751   I translate δίκαιε, “holy;” cf. xvi., 10; 1 John, ii., 29; iii, 7, 10. Father, the world hath not known thee (lost in sin, it cannot know the Holy One); but I have known thee (the Holy One knows the Holy One); and these have known that thou hast sent me (they are, therefore, separated from the world of sin, which is estranged from the Holy God); and I have declared unto them thy name (have revealed unto them Thee, as the Holy One, and not only as the Holy God, but as the Holy Father, with whom they stand in child-like communion), and will declare it further (all that had been revealed was but the germ, as it were, of subsequent developements); that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them (that as they know Thee more and more through the revelations of my spirit, they may, in communion with me, learn more and more how thou lovest me and those that belong to me).”

Thus this prayer embraces the whole work of Christ, up to its final consummation; his work, upon the basis laid down by himself, continually carried on, until all that submit to him shall be brought to a share in his glory—to a complete communion of Divine life with him. What is expressed in the “Lord’s Prayer” as the object of the prayer of believers is here presented as the object of his own prayer for believers.


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