Belonging to Jesus

Hours before His arrest and death, Jesus poured out His heart to God the Father in prayer. John 17 is the record of what He said.

He makes only two requests for His disciples: keep them (v11) and sanctify them (v17). But before He asks God for these things, He offers extensive reasons God should answer His prayers—i.e., justification and argumentation for why the Father should do what He’s asking.

First, He prays: “Father, please do what I’m about to ask for these people because they were yours, and you gave them to me.” Five times He refers to His followers as “the people you gave me” (vv2, 6, 9, 24). It’s a statement Jesus made several other times in John’s gospel: “All the Father gives me will come to me” (6:24). “This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me” (6:39). “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all” (10:29). (cf. 18:9).

The meaning of the phrase is plain, though the significance might be less so. All people who believe in Jesus apparently belonged to the Father in some special way, and at some point the Father gave them to Jesus. I say “in some special way,” because the Bible teaches that everything in creation belongs to God. But here, Jesus is describing a unique relationship with His own special people.
I imagine it like this. It’s a bit like a movie, where our Savior is a lavishly wealthy prince who owns everything in the kingdom. But in this scene, the action slows down as He opens a little box and takes out the possessions which in all the kingdom are the most precious to His heart—gifts from His Father, an inheritance passed on for Him to cherish and protect. The entire kingdom belongs to the Son, but these are the special treasures the Father gave Him.
What are these precious gifts from the Father to the Son? The camera zooms in on the items He’s holding in His hands, and you see… people. Believers. It’s you! If you are a Christian, you are part of a special collection of people the Father gave the Son as an expression of His love.

You can hear the sounds of divine election echoing in the background of this truth. Yes, Jesus loves the whole world, but He will always have a relationship of special intimacy with His own people that the world knows nothing of. These are special gifts from His Father, and so He prays for them exclusively.