Please read the Appeal for Support for the
General Conference World Assembly below

Sabbath, February 25, 2017

“This chapter contains the intercessory prayer offered by Christ to His Father just before His trial and crucifixion. This prayer is a lesson regarding the intercession that the Saviour would carry on within the veil, when His great sacrifice in behalf of men, the offering of Himself, should have been completed. Our Mediator gave His disciples this illustration of His ministration in the heavenly sanctuary in behalf of all who will come to Him in meekness and humility, emptied of all selfishness, and believing in His power to save.” –(Manuscript 29, 1906) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1145.

Prayer for the Father to be glorified

1. As the hour of His passion neared, what earnest prayer did Jesus address to His Father? What did Jesus mean when He asked the Father to glorify Him? How did He handle the responsibility of the work that the Father had entrusted to Him?

John 17:1, 2, 4, 5 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him…. 4I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. 

“We need to study the words that Christ uttered in the prayer that He offered just before His trial and crucifixion.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 197.

“In the intercessory prayer of Jesus with His Father, He claimed that He had fulfilled the conditions which made it obligatory upon the Father to fulfill His part of the contract made in heaven, with regard to fallen man. He prayed: ‘I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do. [That is, He had wrought out a righteous character on earth as an example for men to follow.] And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.’ In this prayer He further goes on to state what is comprehended by the work which He has accomplished, and which has given Him all those who believe on His name. He values this recompense so highly that He forgets the anguish it has cost Him to redeem fallen man. He declares Himself glorified in those who believe on Him. The church, in His name, is to carry to glorious perfection the work which He has commenced; and when that church shall be finally ransomed in the Paradise of God, He will look upon the travail of His soul and be satisfied. Through all eternity the ransomed host will be His chief glory.” –(Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, pp. 260, 261) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1146.

Prayer for the disciples

2. According to Jesus’ words, what is the way to obtain eternal life? Are we deeply interested in such knowledge? Having been given the manifestation of the Father and the Son, did the disciples keep His word?

John 17:3, 6 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent…. 6I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

“In His prayer to the Father, Christ gave to the world a lesson which should be graven on mind and soul. ‘This is life eternal,’ He said, ‘that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.’ John 17:3. This is true education. It imparts power. The experimental knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom He has sent, transforms man into the image of God. It gives to man the mastery of himself, bringing every impulse and passion of the lower nature under the control of the higher powers of the mind. It makes its possessor a son of God and an heir of heaven. It brings him into communion with the mind of the Infinite, and opens to him the rich treasures of the universe.

“This is the knowledge which is obtained by searching the word of God. And this treasure may be found by every soul who will give all to obtain it.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 114.

3. Did Jesus fulfill His mission so the disciples could know where He came from? How do we know that His teaching was so clear that His followers could fully believe that the Heavenly Father had sent their Master?

John 17:7, 8 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 

“Here is the work laid before us, to be representatives of Christ, as He in our world was the representative of the Father. We are to teach the words given us in the lessons of Christ. ‘I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest Me.’ We have our work, and every instructor of the youth in any capacity is to receive in a good and honest heart what God has unfolded and recorded in His holy word in the lessons of Christ, meekly to accept the words of life. We are in the antitypical day of atonement, and not only are we to humble our hearts before God and confess our sins but we are, by all our educating talent, to seek to instruct those with whom we are brought in contact, and to bring them by precept and example to know God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 272.

“There is a great work to be done in the world, and every one of us should let his light shine upon the pathway of others. We need to gather divine rays of light from Christ. We need to search the Scriptures, and dig deep in the mines of truth; for the precious jewels do not always lie on the surface; we should search for them as for hidden treasure.” –(Signs of the Times, December 8, 1890) Lift Him Up, p. 239.

4. As the High Priest once prayed for the people, for whom did Jesus pray in this solemn hour? What did He mean when He said that He did not pray for the world, for on the cross He even prayed for His executioners?

John 17:9, 10 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. 

“He will not forget His church in the world of temptation. He looks upon His tried and suffering people, and prays for them…. Yes, He beholds His people in this world, which is a persecuting world, and all seared and marred with the curse, and [He] knows that they need all the divine resources of His sympathy and His love. Our Forerunner hath for us entered within the veil, and yet by the golden chain of love and truth, He is linked with His people in closest sympathy. 

“He is making intercession for the most lowly, the most oppressed and suffering, for the most tried and tempted ones. With upraised hands He pleads, ‘I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.’ God loves to hear, and responds to the pleadings of His Son….” –(Review and Herald, August 15, 1893) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 948.

Prayer for unity and protection

5. Having stated that eternal life comes from knowing the Father and the Son, what did Jesus mean when He requested that the Father keep the disciples through His name? As the true Shepherd, what did Jesus do while He was in the world?

John 17:11, 12 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. 12While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. 

“Christ had finished the work that was given Him to do. He had gathered out those who were to continue His work among men. And He said: ‘I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are.’ “ –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 24.

“If we draw nigh to God, individually, then don’t you see what the result will be? Can’t you see that we will draw nigh to one another? We cannot draw nigh to God, and come to the same cross, without our hearts being blended together in perfect unity, answering the prayer of Christ ‘that they may be one’ as He is one with the Father. And therefore we should seek in spirit, in understanding, in faith, that we may be one, that God may be glorified in us as He is glorified in the Son; and that God shall love us as He loves the Son.” –(Manuscript 7, 1890) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 937.

Prayer for joy and protection

6. What other request did Jesus make on behalf of the disciples, knowing that no one else could give it to them? What did He mean when He said that the disciples, like Him, were not of the world?

John 17:13, 14; 15:18, 19 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world…. 15:18If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

“Why do we not have the consciousness of sins forgiven? It is because we are unbelieving. We are not practicing the teachings of Christ and bringing His virtues into our lives. Should the joy and exaltation and hope imparted by the Lord Jesus Christ be given to many of us, it would administer to self-esteem and pride. When Jesus is abiding in the heart by faith, the lessons which Christ has given us will be practiced. We will have such exalted views of Jesus Christ that self will be abased. Our affections will center in Jesus, our thoughts will be strongly drawn heavenward. Christ will increase, I will decrease.” –This Day with God, p. 261.

“Let your influence be persuasive, binding people to your heart because you love Jesus, and they are His. This is a great work. If, by your Christlike words and actions, you make impressions that will kindle in their hearts a hungering and thirsting after righteousness and truth, you are a co-laborer with Christ. Your words and deportment are representing Jesus.” –Medical Ministry, p. 205.

7. Continuing to pray, what did He ask for the disciples? In our prayers, how earnestly do we make request for others? 

John 17:15, 16 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

“Christ prayed for His disciples, not that they should be taken out of the world, but that they should be kept from evil–that they might be kept from yielding to the temptations they would meet on every hand. This is a prayer that should be offered up by every father and mother.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 153.

“There are duties to be performed and responsibilities to be borne. The world has not enough true Christians; the church has need of them; society cannot spare them. Christ’s prayer for His disciples was: ‘I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.’ Jesus knows we are in the world, exposed to its temptations, but He loves us and will give us grace to triumph over its corrupting influences. He would have us perfect in character, that our waywardness may not occasion moral deformity in others.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 333.

Thought questions

  • How can we understand Jesus, being under the shadow of the cross, praying not for Himself but for His disciples?
  • If we were on the verge of such a supreme sacrifice, would we pray so deeply and earnestly for our brothers and sisters?
  • Considering that sanctification and unity were fundamental issues of His prayer, how important should these principles be to us?

For additional study

This was Christ’s last prayer with His disciples. It was offered just before He went into the Garden of Gethsemane, where He was to be betrayed and taken. When He reached Gethsemane, He fell prostrate upon the ground, in an agony of distress. What caused His agony? The weight of the sins of the whole world was resting upon His soul. As we study this prayer, let us remember that it was just before this experience and just before His betrayal and trial, that these words were uttered.” –Manuscript 52, 1904) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1145.

“The term world here [in John 17:9], as elsewhere, refers to wicked, rebellious, vicious men. The meaning of this expression here seems to be this: Jesus is praying for His disciples. As a reason why God should bless them, He says that they were not of the world; that they had been taken out of the world; that they belonged unto God. The petition was not offered for wicked, perverse, rebellious men, but for those who were the friends of God and were disposed to receive His favors. This passage, then, settles nothing about the question whether Christ prayed for sinners. He then prayed for His disciples, who were not those who hated Him and disregarded His favors. He afterward extended the prayer for all who should become Christians. John 17:20. When on the cross, He prayed for His crucifiers and murderers. Luke 23:34.” –Albert Barnes’ Notes, comments on John 17:9.

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Appeal for Support
for the General Conference World Assembly

To be read on Sabbath, February 25, 2017

The Special Sabbath School Offering will be gathered
on Sabbath, March 4, 2017

God has high expectations for His chosen ones to press together spiritually and to pull forward together financially to meet the objectives He has given us for His worldwide work. To carry out the gospel commission assigned in the Scriptures, the General Conference has worked very hard to advance the gospel message into many new countries. Beginning and sustaining these fledgling foreign missions requires a lot of funding until they become self-supporting.

In accordance with the resolution of the General Conference delegates in session, a World Assembly is convened once every five years in a designated country. This is in accordance with the example given in Acts 15:6-29, in which the apostles and elders counseled together in Jerusalem. Protestants follow a similar practice, as do Adventists.

The last World Assembly was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2012; and the one before that was in Mexico in 2007. A special motivation for holding the 2017 World Assembly in Europe is to remember the five hundred years since the most significant events of the Protestant Reformation took place, thus honoring the men and women who secured their faith at the cost of their lives. It is expected that 120 to 150 delegates and General Conference officers will be present to represent approximately 100 countries.

This year’s General Conference Delegates’ Meetings will convene in Tortoreto, Italy, from Tuesday, September 12, to Wednesday, September 27. The public conference will take place from Wednesday, September 27, to Sunday, October 1.

The European Division will help bear part of the financing for this gathering, but the General Conference is responsible for many additional costs. A major factor is that most of the representatives from Africa, Asia, and some other countries are dependent on the General Conference to pay for their travel and expenses, including food, lodging, and incidental costs during the Delegates’ Meetings and public meetings. Therefore, the General Conference is asking all Sabbath school and church members, visitors, local churches, fields, and unions to contribute to the Special Sabbath School Offering to be gathered next week to help cover the General Conference World Assembly costs.

The global requirements of the church for personnel and financing are many times greater than what was needed in the time of the Israelites to support the priesthood, the temple, and the temple activities. With so large a challenge before us, let every minister, worker, member, and visitor make the following commitment in the sincere spirit expressed by Nehemiah and the people of Israel: “We will not forsake the house of our God.” Nehemiah 10:39.

We wish you the Lord’s abundant blessings as we all look forward to the special meetings to be held in just six months. Let us be of one mind and heart to make this special event and every action the very best they can be to hasten the Saviour’s coming in the clouds of heaven, remembering the following important words of counsel: “Our hearts must be filled with unselfishness before we can enter the city of God. God’s people should bring their offerings to Him in much greater abundance, and with much more cheerfulness.” –Review and Herald, November 26, 1901.

–Douglas Francis, General Conference Treasurer
Francesco Domenico Caputo, European Division Leader