“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;”
– John 17:20 (Jesus speaking)
The words above were spoken by Jesus as part of a prayer He prayed the night before His crucifixion. That night, He and His closest disciples gathered to partake of the annual Passover meal. Of course, we now know what those disciples had not yet perceived – that the Passover meal foreshadowed what would happen to Messiah. Jesus was “the lamb that was slain.” His body was “the bread that was broken.” His blood was “the cup that was poured out.” His sacrifice became the feast of righteousness that would sustain “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” throughout all the ages.
The prayer Jesus was praying was for those disciples. They were pretty much all He had left since the crowds that had been following Him – and shouting “Hosanna” over Him just a few days before – had turned against Him and were demanding of the Roman authorities, “Crucify Him!” If Jesus’ message was going to get out, it would have to be primarily by those few in that room.
Jesus wrote nothing Himself. Later on, at His trial, Jesus would be asked about this.
The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples, and about His teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said.”
– John 18:19-21
Jesus was counting on those disciples in that room to spread His message. He had devoted three years to training them. His prayer was not just for them, but for us as well: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word.”
The disciples spread the word about Jesus primarily by speaking. They traveled the Roman Empire from one end to the other spreading the truth of what they had personally witnessed. They did occasionally put some of their thoughts in writing. What little writing they left was preserved, gathered, and organized into what we have come to call the New Testament.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, I believe in You through the words of those whom You sent…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)