Our Lord Prays Not for the World
Our Lord’s “High Priestly Prayer” only gets more beautiful. It is beautiful because we learn here that our Lord’s interest is not in the world but in his people. When I say “world,” I mean the world under sin and the dominion of the evil one, the world that rebelled against its Maker and was thus shattered. To that world our Lord will one day say, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.” But to those whom he calls out of the world, those whom the Father “chose in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that [they] should be holy and blameless before Him,” whom He “predestined…for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace,” these He calls His Bride and prepares a new world for their glorious habitation (Ephesians 1:4-6).
Our Lord testifies in this prayer that he has manifested his name to those whom the Father “gave [him] out of the world.” And then Jesus says, “Yours they were, and you gave them to me.” In other words, these belonged to the Father before Jesus ever said to any one of them, “Follow me.” Jesus makes it clear that the Father gave him these that he may give them the words that the Father gave him, so that they would believe that Jesus came from the Father and that all that he did and all that he said were from the Father. In that the disciples believed this, Jesus again accomplished yet another task the Father gave him.
And then Jesus says, “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” A priest prays for those who are his and no others. No priest of the Old Testament ever offered sacrifices on behalf of the world but only on behalf of the people of Israel. Likewise, though our Lord rules the world, he is High Priest only over the new Israel, his Church, that is, those for whom he died and now those for whom he prays, those whom the Father gave him out of the world.
Jesus prays for, Jesus intercedes for, those whom the Father gave him – and none else. Do you not see the special care the Father has for you? Do you not stop and wonder, “Why me?” Do you not feel as deeply as anything you have ever felt before that you are so utterly unworthy of this love? Do you not finally see that it is all of grace? Jesus prays for you because the Father gave you to him; Jesus prays for you because he knows you; Jesus prays for you because he loves you. Jesus prays for you; not the world.