Calvary Road Baptist Church

“The Lord Jesus Christ Praying For Future Believers” Part 3

John 17.20-26 

My text for this message is John 17.22. We will begin reading from verse 19: 

19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one. 

It is essential to remind ourselves before we focus our attention on verse 22, notice what the Lord Jesus Christ prayed for since we have previously seen who He prayed for. From the beginning of John chapter 17, the Lord Jesus Christ prayed for Himself. Then He prayed for the eleven men who were with Him on that occasion before praying for those of us who would come after, believing on Him through their word.

Taking into account who He prayed for, also notice what He prayed for. It is quite easy to see from the words of verse 19 that the what our Lord was praying for was purity. The two key phrases in verse 19 exposing this reality are “I sanctify myself” and “that they also might be sanctified.”

Both phrases in verse 19 contain a form of the Greek word hἁgiάzoo, referring to consecrating, dedicating, treating as holy, eliminating what conflicts with holiness, and such things as that.[1] Referring to the Lord Jesus, hἁgiάzoo would have reference to Him dedicating Himself. Referring to disciples, hἁgiάzoo would have reference to not only dedicating and consecrating them but also to the notion of removing those issues with them that stand in conflict to personal holiness.

How our Lord’s prayer remarkably leads to declarations the Apostle Paul would write decades later: 

Romans 8.29:          

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” 

Philippians 1.6:        

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” 

We can be assured from what the Savior prayed and what the Apostle Paul later wrote that our Lord’s followers have a stable relationship with Him that involves a lifelong experience of progressive sanctification.

I am not for a moment suggesting the believer’s relationship with the Lord Jesus always feels like a stable relationship. Sometimes it feels like a roller coaster. At other times it feels like a meat grinder. But God’s Word shows the child of God’s relationship with the heavenly Father is as stable as God is stable, and our relationship with Christ is on a sure footing, indeed.

Consider these passages from the Psalms that describe the believer’s foundation and experience, taking note of how God chose to describe Himself: 

Ps 18.2:   

“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” 

Ps 18.31:

“For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?” 

Ps 18.46:

“The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.” 

Ps 31.3:   

“For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.” 

Ps 40.2:   

“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” 

How different the believer’s stable relationship with God and with the Savior is from the unbeliever’s life of chaos and uncertainty, described by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 7.21-27: 

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. 

Let us recognize the message of the verses I read from the Psalms, written in poetic Hebrew. They are statements of fact, not feeling. They show the LORD describing Himself as a rock, a reflection of His divine attributes of perfection and immutability or unchangeableness. They also describe the believer’s relationship with God as being solid and reliable. How unlike the unbeliever’s perilous existence.

Does the Christian’s reality deny the fluctuation of our feelings and attitude, ranging from joy to despondency, from peace of mind and heart to trouble? Not at all. Only that as the Savior’s prayer for us is being answered by God, as we are being sanctified, our relationship with God and Christ is unchangeable while our feelings will end up being all over the place.

Those character traits that we possess and practices that we exhibit will gradually and inevitably (however erratic our personal experiences may be) guarantee that we are dealt with by God in answer to Christ’s prayer so that we become more holy by experience. After all, as Paul declared to the Romans, God “did predestinate [us] to be conformed to the image of his Son.”[2]

We observed in verse 21 that unity is a result of this progress in personal holiness. Our unity is a reflection of our spiritual maturity. We will note in the verse that is before us, verse 22, that glory is also related to unity. I read verse 22 once more: 

“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” 

Notice that this portion of our Lord’s prayer to the Father reveals a progression. The Father gave to His Son glory. The Lord Jesus then indicates that He, in turn, gave “them” glory, “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them.”

Because the context of this verse is the portion of the Lord’s prayer concerning future believers, I am persuaded the “them” and “they” in verse 22 refer to future believers. Therefore, this verse has directly to do with you and me, if you know Christ as your Savior.

Something else of interest to us is this word translated “I have given.” It is a form of the Greek verb dίdoomi, which I have mentioned to you on occasion as a common Greek word for giving. That said, the form used here, translated “I have given,” is known as the perfect tense.[3]

What do we learn from a perfect tense verb referring to giving from first-century Koine Greek? A widely used Greek grammar reads, “The Greek perfect tense stands alone in its function. English has no corresponding tense adequate for expressing the significance involved... This is the Greek tense of ‘completed action,’ i.e., it indicates a completed action with a resulting state of being... it implies a process but looks upon the process as having reached a consummation and existing as a completed state.”[4]

The Lord gave us glory. Since the verb is in the perfect tense, we know that we presently have what the Lord gave long ago and is referred to in His prayer. What is it we who are believers currently possess? It may very well be something we are unaware of or do not fully appreciate, but the Lord gave it to us, and we now have it. What is it?

It is glory. The Apostle John made his initial reference to glory back in John 1.14, where he wrote, 

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” 

What event was the apostle referring to in John 1.14? He was referring to the occasion on the Mount of Transfiguration when Peter and James and he accompanied the Lord Jesus to a mountain top to pray. While the Lord prayed, His physical appearance changed, Moses and Elijah appeared with them. Those two long-departed men of God then spoke to the Lord about His upcoming crucifixion.[5]

When Peter and James, and John woke up, they saw the Savior’s changed appearance, dazzling white and brighter than the sun. But the fact that they “beheld his glory” does not refer only to what they observed with their physical eyes but includes their spiritual perception of the incident.[6] This was the “Aha!” moment for those three men when things came together about their Lord in their minds and hearts regarding Who He was and what He was doing.

What the Savior refers to in our text, His giving to us His glory is His transmission to us the notion of Who He is with respect to His mission and ministry as God’s eternally begotten Son. That His use of the Greek word dίdoomi is in the perfect tense shows that this portion of His mission is complete. He has shown what He needed to show. This revelation is now ours to appreciate and respond to. What remained was for Him to do what He needed to do.

This understood, let us be careful not to overlook the final phrase of our text, 

“that they may be one, even as we are one.” 

From this phrase, we see that Christ’s glory given by Him and received by us is to establish unity, achieve unity, enjoy unity, even as the Savior and the Father experienced unity from eternity past.

One rightly wonders, therefore, why someone who professes to be a Christian while demonstrating no unity with the brethren has a genuine appreciation of Christ’s glory. This glory has been given to all believers to appreciate and act upon. How is that possible?

Does it speak to your spiritual condition, or at least your present spiritual health and vitality, when you demonstrate more loyalty and affection for an unsaved spouse or unsaved family members than you do for blood-bought and blood-washed believers in Christ? It would seem so. Why so? Christ gave us glory so that we might possess and demonstrate unity. So, where is that unity? It is a fair question.

Understanding that the glory Christ gave is to foster Christian unity, I have two questions for your consideration: First, did the eleven men who were witness to this prayer the Lord offered up to His Father experience this glory He spoke of (could they feel it, enjoy it, appreciate it), or did they learn from this statement that He had already given them this glory? Second, what is this glory the Savior spoke of at this point in His prayer? Did they have it without knowing they had it?

Concerning my first question, be mindful that there are many things God really and truly does to someone and for someone that they do not feel, experience, or know about unless He tells them. Example: When Genesis 15.6 tells us, 

“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness,” 

did Abram know the LORD there and then justified him? Did he experience it, as in feeling it or seeing it? I am unaware of any indication in Scripture that Abram was informed that God counted his faith for righteousness. Could it be that he was justified but did not know he was justified?

Along the same line, would those eleven men with the Savior have known to be consciously aware that He had given them glory apart from them overhearing about it in His prayer to the Father? I do not know. Like Abram, they might have had something they had not discovered they had. I suspect there are many things God does to us, through us, with us, and for us that we are unaware of apart from truths found in God’s Word. This verse informs us their Lord had already given them glory.

Did they know that before He so prayed in their hearing? I don’t think they did. This is one of the reasons the just must live by faith. There is so much about the Christian life and our relationship with the Savior that is imperceptible and incomprehensible. There are some things we cannot detect. And if we did detect it, we still would not understand it. Just acknowledge that you have been given a measure and a kind of glory as a disciple of Christ and that it is all good.

This brings me to the second of my questions regarding the glory spoken of by the Lord in this verse. What is it? From the Greek word dόxa, we sing “The Doxology,” and understand it to refer in our English language to the concept of glory.

The Greek word can mean everything from brightness, radiance, splendor at one end of its spectrum of meanings to fame, recognition, honor, prestige, and the state of being magnificent at the other end of its range of meanings.[7] One commentator writes, 

“Jesus now says that he has given his followers the glory that the Father gave him. That is to say, just as his true glory was to follow the path of lowly service culminating in the cross, so for them the true glory lay in the path of lowly service wherever it might lead them. The little band and its Master were both insignificant as the world counts importance. But the apostles are right with God and therefore they are supremely significant. They have the true glory. They are walking in the way of God. We have seen often in this Gospel that for Jesus the cross is the true glory. Elsewhere it is recorded that he called on his followers to take up their cross in following him (Luke 9:23). For them, too, the way of the cross is the way to true glory. The purpose of this giving of glory to the disciples is unity. This time Jesus prays that they may be one just as the Father and the Son are one. The bond that unites believers is to be of the very closest.”[8] 

What a stunning series of revelations we find in this verse. The Lord Jesus Christ prayed that His Father would sanctify us, and His prayers to the Father are always answered. Are they not? Does that not add to our sense of spiritual security in Christ? But even more surprising, and a real key to our unity as a congregation is the revelation of something we would not know about apart from God’s Word, that Christ has given us the glory He received from the Father. Glory is an astonishing and magnificent thing in the Bible, while being not perceived with our five senses.

Those three apostles with the Savior on the Mount of Transfiguration beheld Christ’s glory, sure enough. But glory is not always perceived or appreciated, being so much more than observable brightness. Therefore, let us take the Savior’s words as sufficient evidence that #1 we have received glory from Him to live for Him and serve Him, and, #2, it is glory sure enough even though it is glory we cannot at present perceive with our senses.

How we ought to serve God. How we ought to exalt Christ. How we ought to honor one another. How we ought to demonstrate spiritual unity. And how we ought to bless and praise God as recipients of the glory given to us by our Savior!

May I now speak to those of you who do not know the Savior? There are three important points that I would like to briefly mention to you. I seek not to change your mind but to request that you make a new decision about Christ based on a consideration of facts you have not considered before or dealt with before in a thoughtful manner. 


I begin by claiming the Bible is true. I cannot prove the Bible is true. No one can prove the Bible is true. What is important is that you cannot prove the Bible is not true. Many have tried and failed. Many have tried and became Christians. Consider, also, that Isaac Newton believed the Bible is true. So did Lord Kelvin, and Copernicus, and Johannes Kepler, James Clerk Maxwell, and Michael Faraday, along with many others. Granted, they could not prove the Bible is true, but they also recognized that there are many important things that cannot be proven but must be assumed to be true. To believe the Bible is not ridiculous because those men were not ridiculous. They were brilliant.

Why should you accept the Bible as true? Three reasons: First, the Bible has never been shown to be untrue. Ever. Second, to deny the truthfulness and authenticity of the Bible is to deny God’s truthfulness as the Author of the Bible. That’s not good. Third, only the Bible shows the way of salvation. If the Bible is not true you have no path to escape the eternal damnation of your soul.

Next, the Old Testament predicts the coming of the Savior. Unless you are new to our Church, you know from listening to me that there are hundreds of Old Testament predictions of a coming Messiah, from identifying His nation, to His tribe, to His clan, to His place of birth, to His time of birth. Add to that the many predictions fulfilled during His earthly ministry after He reached adulthood, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, cleansing lepers, casting out demons, walking on water, calming the storms and the seas. The odds against one individual fulfilling so many predictions written centuries in advance are so astronomically high as to be impossible to any but the most unreasonable human beings. And the Dead Sea scrolls put to an end, once and for all, any absurd notion that portions of the Bible were written after those predicted events occurred.

Third, secular history records that He came, died, and rose from the dead. I have preached too many sermons for too many decades to too many people for anyone in his right might to question this. With a closed Bible, it can be established from other reputable sources that Jesus of Nazareth was born, lived, died on a cross, rose from the dead, and His resurrection after death was witnessed by hundreds who knew Him. So convincing is the evidence that I have in my library a doctoral dissertation submitted by Gary Habermas in 1976 while enrolled at Michigan State University, titled “The Resurrection of Jesus: A Rational Inquiry.”[9] We have Church members with graduate degrees from secular universities. They can describe for you how challenging it had to be to defend such a dissertation to tenured professors at a secular university. To put it another way, the proofs of Christ’s resurrection had to be incontrovertible, or those secular university professors would not have allowed Habermas to obtain his degree.

Fourth, the New Testament explains Christ’s coming and the sinner’s saving response. From the four Gospel accounts of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection, to the book of Acts recording the main features of the Apostle Peter and Paul’s ministries, to the letters written to congregations and individuals that comprise the rest of the New Testament, we are told what the responses to Christ ought to be. In short, Jesus Christ came to address the sin problems of sinners, your sin problem. He is the Lamb of God Who came to take away the sins of the world. The proper response to the Good News is to turn to Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

The wrong responses are to do nothing as passive resistance or to consciously reject Him as active resistance. The consequence of either wrong response to Christ is eternal damnation. 


Otherwise, sinners would not deny and refuse the God Who is. How can someone imagine himself to be reasonable and rational while denying the Creator of all things? With God’s fingerprints on everything in creation, can a person be reasonable and rational while denying God and His place in every individual’s life?

Please do not misunderstand what I’m stating. I am not suggesting that you are not smart. You might even be brilliant. But with respect to God and spiritual reality, so long as you deny God and His rightful place in your life you cannot properly be understood to be anything other than foolish.

It is not reasonable to deny the God Who is. It is not rational to refuse to deal with the God with Whom we have to do. You imagine yourself to be reasonable and rational, but you are neither.

Otherwise, sinners would not be called from irrationality to reason. If you are reasonable, and if you are rational, would you not live your life in a reasonable and rational way? Yet what do we find in Isaiah 1.18? 

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” 

The reason for the LORD’s call to sinners to reason with Him is the unreasonable thinking and doing of sinners. Were sinners reasonable and rational in their thinking and doing, God would not call for them to reason with Him. Ergo, my sinful friend, you are not reasonable. Your unreasonableness needs to be challenged, shown for what it is, so that you will abandon your unreasonableness in favor of the Gospel. You imagine yourself to be reasonable and rational, but you are neither.

Otherwise, sinners would not refuse the One who is altogether lovely. Sinners wrongly imagine themselves to be rational, logical, and reasonable. If that is true, why do sinners ignore God? It seems to me that ignoring the Creator is illogical. Secondly, why would God call sinners to reason with Him if sinners were reasonable? There is a third reason that shows sinners to not be near as a reasonable and rational as they think they are.

On one side of the situation, we have the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the living God, the Messiah of Israel, the King of Kings and Lord of lords. On the other side of the situation we have you, the sinner. Since He is the sinless Son of the living God, the holy One of Israel, who is responsible for the fault that exists between you and Him? He loves you, but you do not love Him. He died for you, but you have no interest in Him. We know there is something wrong with you. You know there is something wrong with you. But there is nothing wrong with Him. Therefore, can it be denied that you are the irrational one, the illogical one, the one with serious issues? You imagine yourself to be reasonable and rational, but you are neither.

Otherwise, sinners would not repudiate the witness of their Christian loved ones. I speak to those of you who have Christian loved ones, perhaps a mother, perhaps a father, perhaps a sibling who is a believer. Are you of the opinion that they are spiritually irrational, spiritually illogical, absent all perception and discernment with respect to spiritual issues? Additionally, do you suppose that your beloved mother or beloved father or adored sibling is Hell-bent on ruining your life?

My father is 96 years old. His father was a wonderful Christian man. His mother was an adorable Christian prayer warrior. His two older sisters were Christians, one of them being a woman of astonishing virtue. No less than four of his brothers were gloriously saved. Yet he rejects the Gospel. To be that way he must conclude that his father, his mother, his sisters, and his brothers were wrong about the most important issue of life. Are they all wrong?

The same is true of you. Is your dad so wrong about the Gospel? Is your mother so wrong about the Gospel? Is your son so wrong about the Gospel. Is your sister so wrong about the Gospel? How can they be so wrong while agreeing with the Bible and every credible Christian you have ever known? So, who is the unreasonable one? Who is the irrational one? Who is the illogical one? And who will be the one who leads loved ones into the paths of destruction should they follow your example? 


Four considerations to conclude:

First, consider what your sins do to God. Do you know what your sins do to God? Your sins offend Him. Your sins anger Him. Your sins demand a righteous response from His righteous nature. That is what your sins do to God.

Second, consider what your sins do to you. Your sins separate you from God. Your sins deaden you spiritually. Your sins harm you. Your sins harm everyone you love and like. Your sins warp your perceptions and contaminate your sensibilities. Your sins defile you and corrupt you. Your sins damn your soul to Hell.

Third, consider what Jesus Christ can do to your sins. Jesus forgives sins. Only He can forgive sins, because only He paid the penalty for sins when He died on the cross of Calvary and shed His blood an atonement for sins. Consider what Simon Peter said to the men who unjustly accused, tried, and condemned the Lord Jesus Christ, Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas: 

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” 

Finally, consider what your only recourse to escape the wrath of God is. To escape the wrath of God, you must flee to the Savior. There is no one else to turn to. There is no place to hide. Thankfully, He bids you to 

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”[10] 

What is your plan? What course of action will you choose?

If you do not turn to Christ, where will you turn? To whom will you turn, if not to Him? Who can save you but Him? Only He is able. Only He is willing.

The Savior prayed for me. He prayed for the others here who have trusted Him. What about you? He bids you come to Him.

Come to Jesus now.


[1] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 9-10.

[2] Romans 8.29

[3] Lidija Novakovic, John 11-21: A Handbook On The Greek Text - BHGNT, (Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2020), page 209.

[4] Ray Summers, Essentials of New Testament Greek, (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1950), page 103.

[5] Luke 9.28-36

[6] See qeάomai in Gerhard Kittel, Editor, Theological Dictionary Of The New Testament, Vol V, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), pages 317-318.

[7] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 256-258.

[8] Leon Morris, The Gospel According To John - Revised Edition, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), page 650.

[9] Gary Robert Habermas, The Resurrection Of Jesus: A Rational Inquiry, A Dissertation Submitted to Michigan State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Interdisciplinary Studies, College of Arts and Letters, 1976.

[10] Matthew 11.28

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