Read John 17:1-8
It is appropriate for us to begin our Lenten pilgrimage with a prayer. And what better prayer is there than the one that Jesus Himself prayed to the Father on our behalf. Over these next three days we will read the whole of our Lord’s high priestly prayer recorded in the Gospel of John.
It is incredibly comforting to know that, as St. Paul reminds us, Jesus Christ did not only pray for us on the last night of His earthly ministry, He “is at the right hand of God, and is interceding for us” (Rom. 8:34). We can come to Him with all of our petitions. The curtain is open and we have been granted access to Him. We can bring all of our concerns and lay them at His feet. But even when we neglect to call upon Him, His constant prayer is that we will know Him, and continue to live eternally in relationship with Him.
In today’s pericope, Jesus defines eternal life. “Now this is eternal life,” He says to the Father, “that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” But what does it mean to know Jesus and the Father who sent Him? To know, in the Biblical sense, is a deeply intimate, loving relationship, in the way a husband and wife know one another. This is a relationship grounded in both the Word and the Spirit. Twice in the preceding chapters Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15; 15:14). Jesus says that those whom the Father has given to Him are “they who have obeyed Your Word…I gave them the words You gave Me and they accepted them…” And in his first epistle, John writes, “Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them” (2:4-5). The Word of God is Truth, and those who obey His Word dwell eternally with Him. Jesus’ prayer is that we may know Him and the Father who sent Him.