There are times mentioned, in the New Testament, about Jesus going off by Himself to pray. But in the 17th chapter of the Gospel of John Jesus is praying aloud while still with His disciples. This prayer comes on the night He is to be betrayed and arrested. His prayer concern is for -
- His disciples
- And future believers; the disciples of today.
Jesus and the twelve disciples participated in the Passover which was the few hours before His arrest, dating back to the Old Testament times of Exodus. This time is more commonly known as the Last Supper. It was the last time they would all be together.
The Last Supper took place on what Christians call Maundy Thursday. It is a solemn time for this was the time spent, His last few hours, with His chosen, the twelve disciples. Notice, He did not spend His last few hours on earth with His father, mother or brothers. There is no mention of His earthly family being present. The family He had been a part of from birth and during His youth. But instead, this special time was spent with His disciples, whom He loved, taught and shared His adult life with. They had spent every waking moment together during the three years of Jesus' ministry and it was about to be over.
During the supper Jesus told the disciples many things about what to expect when He left this world. In chapters 13-16 of the gospel of John, Jesus is in fellowship with His disciples, engaged in conversation. After dinner and conversation the bible says "Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven and said..."
Looking up to Heaven
Jesus clearly knew who He was addressing and talking to, because, the bible says that "Jesus looked up to heaven". It is mentioned in the bible many times about people looking up or looking towards heaven. This is significant in the fact that looking up acknowledges God as Sovereign; the only One Who can hear, understand and give answers to their petitions and requests. He is also the only One who can see within a person heart, whether or not they are sincere in their prayers and petitons. (1 Sam. 16:7)
Jesus Makes His Request Known
The attitude of Jesus while praying to His Father or talking to Him is that of a child talking to a parent. Jesus is inquiring of His Father about what was on His mind and also in His heart. He makes His requests known before God, which is the same way He taught His disciples to do when they prayed, as well. He taught them to address God as their Father, too, when they prayed. One can almost say here, Jesus is taking and acting on His own advice in response to when the disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray.
The first words spoken are
"Father, the hour has come."
Jesus' time on earth was coming to an end and He was facing the impending doom of torture and the cross. The hour had come. The end of His life and ministry on earth. The end of His presence and physical relationship with His disciples. It was the end of his hardship; of being separated from His Father.
This was Jesus' crowning hour. This was His time for glorification from His Father. Jesus would suffer at the hands of the people, pass through to death, be resurrected again to life and then He would ascend back into heaven.
The hour Jesus' was referring to is the hour of Him being glorified through His death, His resurrection and His ascension. This was the glory by which Christians around the world celebrate Easter or what they call today, Resurrection Sunday.