For years John 17 has been my favorite text in the Bible. The chapter begins with Jesus, surrounded by His disciples, looking up toward Heaven to pray. In His prayer, Jesus expresses His love for His disciples and all future believers (you and me!). He also gives an account for the time He spent training and equipping His disciples, one of Jesus’ specific assignments while on Earth.
We, as parents, have also been given a specific assignment concerning our disciples – our children. And we will also be held accountable for the manner in which we carry out our mission (Romans 14:12).
Below are eight statements in John 17 in which Jesus recounts the way He stewarded His time with the disciples God entrusted to Him. What if on the day we give an account for our parenting, we are able to make the same statements Jesus made regarding His disciples?
1. In verse 4, Jesus prays, “I have brought You glory by completing the work You gave Me to do.”
God created the family structure and His expectation is, as parents (noun), we would parent (verb) in a way that glorifies Him. Belonging to a church and sending kids to a Bible-teaching school is wonderful, but the responsibility (and honor) to train up children in the way they should go ultimately resides with parents. Am I bringing God glory in the way I parent?
2. “I have revealed You to those You gave Me.” (Verse 5)
This verse specifically refers to Jesus revealing God to His disciples. The word “revealed” (other translations use “manifested”) indicates that Jesus didn’t merely teach His disciples about God, but He also displayed God’s character. In the same way, parents are to reveal and display God’s character to their children. Am I revealing Jesus to the children I have been given?
3. “Now they know that everything You have given Me comes from You.” (Verse 7)
Jesus made known to all who encountered Him that He was doing God’s business and all power had been given to Him by God. Nothing He had or did was by His own initiative, but everything was with complete dependence on God. Do my children know that everything I have – money, possessions, time, talent, days on this earth, etc. – has been given to me by God and that I am a steward of those gifts?
4. “I gave them the words You gave Me.” (Verse 8)
It is my fervent prayer that God’s Word is on my lips and in my actions. It is also my responsibility to teach my children God’s Word. Teaching children to pray, memorize scripture and to apply God’s Word to their lives is a cornerstone of Christian parenting. Am I giving my children the words from God?
5. “They knew with certainty that I came from You.” (Verse 8)
Introducing my kids to Jesus and spiritual disciplines (reading the Bible, praying, etc.) is what I’m called to do. However, my kids know me better than just about anybody, and they know when my actions and attitude don’t reflect the God I’m calling them to follow. And they tell me. Do my children know with certainty that I am a follower of Christ and lead them in a way that reflects a relationship with Him?
6. “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by the name You gave Me.” (Verse 12)
While my children are young, it is my responsibility to protect them from physical, emotional and spiritual harm to the best of my ability. That means I make decisions that do not put them in harm’s way or leave them exposed to outside influences that will negatively impact them (harmful people, media, social media, situations). Am I doing everything I can to protect my children?
7. “As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” (Verse 18)
As parents, our job is to raise children who will become responsible, productive adults. Even while they are young, we must parent with the end (adulthood) in mind. But this verse isn’t just about Jesus sending responsible, productive men into the world, it’s about sending His disciples into the world to share His message. Am I purposely equipping my children to be sent into the world?
8. “I have made You known to them and will continue to make You known….” (Verse 26)
Jesus ended this great prayer on a note of faith and triumph, knowing He had done His work and would complete His assignment (the crucifixion and resurrection). It’s not just my responsibility to introduce my children to Jesus, but to help them cultivate their own relationship with Him. And I can only do that if I’m committed to my own relationship with Jesus. Have I made Jesus known to my children?
Parents, we are on assignment, just as Jesus was on assignment. We may have numerous roles throughout our lives, but parenting is one of the most important jobs we’ve been given. In John 17, we see Jesus’ assessment of His earthly assignment and it serves as a guidepost for our own duty as parents.
But I do think it’s important to note, I’ve known salt-of-the Earth, Godly parents whose children want nothing to do with sound wisdom or a relationship with Jesus. By the same token, I’ve known people who grew up in chaotic, Godless homes who have gone on to have a deep, abiding relationship with Jesus. This isn’t a formula for raising a Christian as much as it is an accountability check-up for the work God has asked parents to complete.
Nothing is more sobering than the realization that I will give an account for the way my husband and I raise our three children. But on that day, I pray my account sounds suspiciously like the eight statements above.
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7