John 17:6-19 (ESV)
6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
Just as a reminder, in chapter 17, we get the incredible privilege to hear Jesus praying for all His disciples, including you and me.
As I read this part of the prayer, I was struck by the passion of Jesus as He addresses His Father and as He entrusts His disciples to His Father.
Jesus is very specific in noting that He loves His disciples, He has cared for them, that He has given them the very words that the Father has given Him and that His disciples have come to know and believe that Jesus came from the Father.
This belief in Jesus has now set His disciples apart from the world, and by “world” Jesus does not simply mean a physical location but rather that the disciples have come into the kingdom of light. They are no longer darkness and that darkness no longer defines and determines who they are. So now the disciples, like Jesus, are set apart from the rest of the world which continues to reject God’s love and mercy in the gift of Jesus.
So Jesus prays to His Father, asking that the Father protect them and keep them just as He has done throughout Jesus’ ministry.
It’s interesting to note that Jesus doesn’t ask that the Lord take them from the world, but rather that the Lord would do some specific things: 1- keep them in His name as Jesus has done (verses 11-12), 2- that the joy of Jesus may be fulfilled within them, 3- that they be kept from the evil one, and 4- that they be sanctified in the truth—that is that His disciples, and His Church, would always have God’s word as the central truth in their lives while they are in this world.
This is such a passionate prayer from Jesus as He entrusts His disciples, whom He loves so much, to the Father.
Why? Why is Jesus so passionate in His prayer? Verse 18 is the clue. Just like Jesus was given and sent into the world by His Father, so now, Jesus is giving and sending His disciples into the world. Now it’s their turn to go out and proclaim what they have come to know so well: the Good News of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness for all.
I love Dale Bruner’s comments on Jesus’ disciples being sent into the world. “The world is our goal, not our source; our place of work, not our measure of worth; our mission, not our Messiah; the persons who we are to love, and yet, much of whose motives we are to distrust. Not easy combinations; but an exciting and challenging mission, requiring all the wisdom we can get from Jesus and from his gift of the Paraclete (the Holy Spirit) to the Church.”
God bless you and know that you are constantly in my prayers.