The title, translated literally from the French, is The world, a sanctuary and a battlefield. Initially this seems rather cumbersome, so I have tended to use for myself the simple title John 17, which says a great deal — there could hardly be a more interesting chapter in the Bible, and to hear from Daniel on this must be worthwhile! The French title does, however, convey a lot. For publication, we opted for the title Jesus’ final prayer.
The subject is sanctification, and Jesus’ prayer that his disciples be sanctified. Only God can sanctify because only God is holy. Jesus is God and he alone can say, “I have sanctified myself”, but now with his last prayer, the last words he speaks before his disciples and to his Father, he asks that his disciples be sanctified. Why?
Well, it goes in two directions. Firstly, the world and indeed the cosmos is holy, a “sanctuary”, and to live within this holy place, as “priests unto God” offering praise and worship requires of us that we be holy. In referring to “the foundation of the world”, Jesus likens the creation to a temple, and in this temple God has placed humanity as his living image; our place — to proclaim the glory of God. Hence the need for us to be sanctified.
Secondly, though, the world is a battlefield; God has a holy war and we need to be sanctified as warriors to engage in this war, the war of love. The war also goes in two directions, outwardly towards the world, and inwardly too, in the heart, which leads to what is with Daniel a familiar theme, the monk and inner discipline; however, the key point here is Jesus’ prayer and statement, “sanctify them through the truth; thy word is truth.”