This devotional content was produced in conjunction with our teaching series, "The Upper Room." For more content from the series, go to benttree.org/upper-room. Read the devotional below, or click to listen as author Elisa Laird reads out loud.
In the final chapter of the Upper Room Discourse, John lets us eavesdrop on a prayer from Jesus to his Father.
Jesus begins with himself, but rather than a litany of requests (he is about to face rejection, brutality, and crucifixion), Jesus’ prayer is laced with praise and truth about who Jesus is and the promise found in him. He asks for glory, not for himself but so that God can be glorified through the work of saving the world, as he promised so long ago. Encapsulated in these words is the good news of the gospel (v. 3): to know God and Jesus. (This word know in the Greek denotes an intimate relationship and to understand through personal experience.)
Then he shifts his focus to his disciples, the men who have followed him these last three years of ministry. This is the bulk of the prayer. Jesus reminds them that their identity in him is set; they are his—no matter what is to come. He asks for their protection—not a physical but a spiritual one—to deflect the enemy’s attacks on their unity with Christ and one another (v. 11). Jesus reminds them that they are targets because they carry the joy of the gospel (v. 13). As the joy of the gospel continues to seep into them and they see it fulfilled, the work of the Spirit will continue to convince them of their holiness and will solidify God’s promises as truth (v. 17).
Finally, Jesus expands his prayer one more time—to include all believers for all time.
Let that sink in.
This discourse is for us too. Paralleling the words used throughout this message, the same protection he requested for his Twelve, he asks for us. The same spiritual growth and empowering of the Holy Spirit he beckoned for God to send is for us. The same mission to share the Life of Christ with a world that does not know him is ours.
We are the upper room.
He had us in mind before the cross, just like he had us in mind on the cross.
But the last thing Jesus did before he was arrested, tried, and sent to the cross was to lift us up in prayer so that we would step in to a life of peace in the face of a world against us (John 14; 15:18-27) and joy through the Spirit’s work in us and through us (John 15). We can know that these promises are our promises, too, spoken directly from the lips of our Savior.
And those words can fuel us into the greater calling he has on our lives as believers to share the gospel with whomever he puts in our path. We can go, unafraid, because we have his divine protection—not from rejection from those around us, not from hurt or pain, but from the assurance that our identity is secure in Jesus and can’t be stripped from us. We can go courageously because we have his Spirit, alive and active inside us, making us one with Christ in word, in action, and in thought.
The upper room is an invitation that keeps on inviting—one believer sharing life with others, asking them to come in from the world to the table of fellowship and communion with the Savior, to know him—and then to be sent out to share that Life with others.
Read John 17 on your own today with this perspective: Enter the upper room. What is Jesus saying to you?