When John Knox was dying and his wife brought the Bible to his bedside, she asked what she should read. “Read where I first cast my anchor—the 17th of John,” he replied. Early or late, one may cast an anchor in these profound depths and be sure the anchor will hold.
Here we are permitted one of Scripture’s rare glimpses of communication between members of the Godhead. Here we have the sinless Son of Man, who comes not by grace (as we must) but by right. A sacred hush hangs over John 17; one wants to take off his shoes on this holy ground.
The anguish of Gethsemane and the agony of Calvary will follow within hours, and Jesus knows it, but His peace is undisturbed.
But when a man has access to God, what shall he request? Sadly, some of us do not seem to know. Our prayers are, as a result, for things—a far cry from the praying in which our Lord engages.
For our sakes He “sanctifies” Himself (John 17:19). The term here means not to cleanse—Jesus did not need any cleansing—but to consecrate, to dedicate to the divine purpose. His coming was for us; His dying was for us; His praying is for us as well. To think—Jesus spent time in costly caring for me. Robert McCheyne said,
“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.”
The heart of this Calvary-eve appeal is that we believers might be sanctified (John 17:17, 19). The “uttermost salvation” made available through such intercession is not only quantitative—salvation for all time and eternity—but qualitative—a complete salvation, a pervasive cleansing of the whole personality, a sharing in the wholeness of the divine nature limited only by the finitude of the man who receives it. Jesus is earnestly asking that for me, every day. The purpose of the cross is not only to pardon, but to purify.
If Jesus, in such an hour of crisis, asked the Father to sanctify me, ought I not to seek it for myself? May I not make His prayer my prayer, with assurance that God will answer?
Jesus’ prayer, breathing out its blessing, is my assurance that this may be my experience, yes—shall be!
Edward Read, Burning, Always Burning