Before the Savior suffered in Gethsemane, He offered His great Intercessory Prayer. He prayed that His disciples and all who follow Him would come to know Heavenly Father and obtain eternal life, and He prayed that they might be one with Him and His Father.
Jesus Christ addresses Heavenly Father in prayer
Think of some famous people whom you know something about.
Now think of the people in your life whom you know the best.
What is the difference between knowing about someone and actually knowing that person? In the following space, write some things you might do to really come to know someone: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The Savior taught about the importance of knowing Heavenly Father and Him. As you study John 17, look for truths that will help you follow the path that will, in time, lead you to not only better know about but also come to better know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
After the Last Supper, the Savior walked with His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. Before they reached the garden, Jesus paused to offer a prayer. It is traditionally known as the Intercessory Prayer. One meaning of the word intercede is to speak to someone in behalf of another person. In this case, Jesus Christ spoke to Heavenly Father in behalf of His disciples, pleading that they might receive eternal life.
Read John 17:1–3, looking for how the Savior described eternal life. (John 17:3 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark this verse in a distinctive way to help you locate it in the future.)
From John 17:3 we learn the following truth: To receive eternal life, we must come to know Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How is knowing the Father and the Son different from knowing about Them?
Read the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and mark what he said it means to know the Father and the Son: “It is one thing to know about God and another to know him. We know about him when we learn that he is a personal being in whose image man is created; when we learn that the Son is in the express image of his Father’s person; when we learn that both the Father and the Son possess certain specified attributes and powers. But we know them, in the sense of gaining eternal life, when we enjoy and experience the same things they do. To know God is to think what he thinks, to feel what he feels, to have the power he possesses, to comprehend the truths he understands, and to do what he does. Those who know God become like him, and have his kind of life, which is eternal life” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:762).
Coming to know God and becoming like Him is possible for us as we receive the Holy Ghost and partake of all the blessings of the Savior’s Atonement. However, this is a process that will continue throughout this life and even after this life (see Moroni 7:48; 10:32–33).
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Why can’t a person obtain eternal life without knowing God the Father and Jesus Christ?
What are some ways you can come to know the Father and the Son better?
In John 17:4–5 we learn that the Savior reported to His Father that He had finished the work He had given Him to do. He asked His Father to glorify Him with the same glory He had had in the premortal life.
Read John 17:6–8, looking for what His disciples had done to come to know the Savior. You may want to mark what you find.
Scripture Mastery—John 17:3
Read the following copy of the scripture mastery passage John 17:3 aloud:
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
Next, cross out any three words so you can no longer see them, and read the passage aloud again, including the words you crossed out. Repeat the pattern of crossing out words and reading the passage aloud until all of the words are crossed out. Then do your best to write the passage from memory in your scripture study journal.
The Savior prays for His disciples
Read John 17:9, 11–18, looking for what Jesus prayed for in behalf of His disciples.
Notice that the Savior mentioned that His disciples would continue living in a world that was evil and that hated them. From John 17:14–16 we learn that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to be in the world but not of the world. You may want to write this principle in the margin of your scriptures.
What do you think it means to be in the world but not of the world? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles can help you understand how to live in the world and not be of the world:
“In the Church, we often state the couplet: ‘Be in the world but not of the world.’ …
“Perhaps we should state the couplet … as two separate admonitions. First, ‘Be in the world.’ Be involved; be informed. Try to be understanding and tolerant and to appreciate diversity. Make meaningful contributions to society through service and involvement. Second, ‘Be not of the world.’ Do not follow wrong paths or bend to accommodate or accept what is not right. …
“Members of the Church need to influence more than we are influenced. We should work to stem the tide of sin and evil instead of passively being swept along by it. We each need to help solve the problem rather than avoid or ignore it” (“The Effects of Television,” Ensign, May 1989, 80).
Ponder why the Lord wants us to remain in the world while not being of the world.
In your scripture study journal, explain how a person could be in the world but not of the world in each of the following settings: at school, with friends, and online. Then write one specific way you will seek to better follow the Savior by being in the world but not of the world.
The Savior prays for all people who accept His gospel
Despite our best efforts, we do not remain completely clean from the sins and evil that exist in the world. If we could not be cleansed from our sins, we would be shut out of the presence of God forever because no unclean thing can dwell in His presence (see 1 Nephi 15:33–34).
Read John 17:20–23, looking for what Jesus Christ prayed for. You may want to mark the word one wherever it appears in these verses.
Notice that the Savior prayed not only for His Apostles but also for those who will believe in their word that they all might be one as Jesus and the Father are one. These verses make it clear that the Father and the Son are two distinct beings. Jesus prayed for spiritual unity, not physical unity.
What makes it possible for us to become one with the Father and the Son?
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how we can become one with the Father and the Son: “The literal meaning of the English word Atonement is self-evident: at-one-ment, the bringing together of things that have been separated or estranged” (“The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Mar. 2008, 34–35).
One important truth we can learn from John 17:20–23 is that as we come unto Jesus Christ and receive the blessings of His Atonement, we can become one with the Father and the Son.
From what you know of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, why do you want to become one with them? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Read the following statement from President James E. Faust of the First Presidency, looking for the blessing that will come to those who seek to be one with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
“We should earnestly seek not just to know about the Master, but to strive, as He invited, to be one with Him (see John 17:21), to ‘be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man’ (Eph. 3:16). …
“It is my testimony that we are facing difficult times. We must be courageously obedient. My witness is that we will be called upon to prove our spiritual stamina, for the days ahead will be filled with affliction and difficulty. But with the assuring comfort of a personal relationship with God, we will be given a calming courage” (“That We Might Know Thee,” Ensign, Jan. 1999, 2, 5).
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What will you do to better come to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and strengthen your relationship with Them?
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied John 17 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: