John 17: 1- 8
After Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted his eyes up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
John begins the Easter story with the Last Supper in chapter 13. This is similar to the other gospels, other than Jesus asking Judas to leave during the meal. After Judas has left, he begins to teach the disciples. This continues for a few chapters, and Jesus ends it with a prayer now.
While we know that Jesus spent much of his time in prayer, we rarely see one being written out in full, showing both what he did (lifting his eyes to heaven) and what he said. Matthew 11:25 – 27, and John 11: 41 – 42 are examples of this, with the author John using the same phrase ‘lifting his eyes’ or ‘looking up’ in that passage too.
The “hour” of Jesus is a recurring theme in John’s gospel. He had previously stated that his hour “was not yet come” or that “the hour is coming”, to, for example, his mother at the Wedding at Cana (John 2:4) or to the Samaritan at the well (John 4: 21 – 23). As earlier, during the Last Supper, he states that his hour is now come, and that he is ready for his glorification. Not only has the hour come, but his work on earth, God’s work, is done. The reference to Jesus being “before the world existed” is another recurring theme of John, beginning with the ‘word’ passage in the first chapter
Given that Jesus knew what he would have to endure, this is a much more triumphant prayer than the one he prayed in Gethsemane (Luke 22:42), and can be seen as both a celebration and a request. He is celebrating the fact that he has completed God’s work on earth, but requesting that his last task does succeed, namely in enabling him to become the Messiah, lifted up and glorified. This prayer does not make sense if we understand Jesus to be a great teacher, it demands much more than that.