John 17:9-10, NIV
9 "I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given
me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have
is mine. And glory has come to me through them."


January 23, 2012
Jesus clearly drew a line of separation. At this very moment in time,
it wasn't the whole wide world that concerned him most. It was just a
few people out of the many. His beloved disciples who had been with
him through thick and thin. These are the ones who mattered most
to him as he prepared to depart.

That's not hard to understand. Even the most public figures have only
a few people who gather around them in the intimate moments of their
private lives. Jesus had been recognized and followed by many a
happy crowd, but in the end he was surrounded only by his few
disciples. These he held fast to his heart in prayer.

"They are yours," he said to his Father. "You have given them to me.
All I have is yours and all you have is mine." Who did these disciples
belong to? Who do our loved ones belong to?

These faithful followers had made Jesus beautiful in life. Now his
parting prayer was on their behalf. Hopefully we all have someone in
our inner circle who makes us beautiful. In gratitude we can thank
God for giving them to us. And when we need to relinquish them
back into the hands of God, we do so in tears, our sorrow mixed
with thanksgiving.

 

                                             John 17:11-12, NIV
11"I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the
world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the
power of your name--the name you gave me--so that they may
be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected
them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has
been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that
Scripture would be fulfilled."


January 23, 2012
Not only will the disciples feel the effects of being separated from
"the world", they will also be separated from Jesus, the one they have
been with for the past three years. The way the phrase "the world"
is used is that it is threatening to them and they need to be protected
from it. That is to be expected on this night when Jesus will be falsely
accused of blasphemy. If their leader is arrested, it's likely the
disciples will be found guilty by association. They have every right
to fear "the world."

I think when John writes about the world, he is referring to unbelievers.
Those who reject the claims of Jesus, who ignore God's invitation,
who neglect to do the things that lead to eternal life.

 

We pray in the Lord's Prayer: Thy will be done, on earth as it is in
heaven. Yet we look around at our world and see far too few signs of
earth looking like heaven. Why? Because for God's will to be done on
earth as it is in heaven, we humans must cooperate with God to
bring that request to fruition.

Jesus is going home to his Father; the disciples are staying here.
"Holy Father protect them while I am gone from them. Keep each one
safe by the power of the name you gave me." I've been told that Jesus
is a form of the name Joshua, and means "Savior". Joshua in the Old
Testament was a warrior who protected God's people with a sword
in one hand and God's holy covenant in the other hand.

At his birth Jesus was also given the name Immanuel. Which means,
God with us. There's power in that name, too. Believing God is with us
puts fear in the back seat. If we really believed in Immanuel, we could
leave fear behind us in the dust.

Protection, safety and oneness. Does oneness mean staying together
as one body? Or was Jesus thinking in terms of not tearing each other
down, no power plays, no dividing into little groups that disagree and
fight with each other. Sometimes we are known to attack each other--
who needs enemies when we able to assume that role ourselves!

Sadly, I don't think Christians are known for their love of each other.
This prayer of Jesus will not be answered unless we cooperate with
God. I believe Jesus greatly desired the same kind of love and
closeness among his disciples that Jesus and the Father experienced.
Is that possible this side of heaven?

 

                                             John 17:13-15, NIV
13 "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still
in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy
within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has
hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of
the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world
but that you protect them from the evil one."


January 23, 2012
Here Jesus introduces the theme of joy again. In the midst of his
disciples being in the world, but not belonging to the world because
they belong to God, Jesus prays about the full measure of his joy.
He wants the disciples to know this joy, too, when they pray to their
heavenly Father. Where is this joy? It's within them. Not dependent
upon life's circumstances, but peace and joy created by the spirit
of God on the inside.

"I am coming; I am already on my way to the Father. And my joy is
complete." Jesus said that a few hours before his crucifixion. He is full
of joy, not full of fear. How amazing is that! Joy and sorrow walk hand
in hand. Jesus felt sorrow that night, too. And if Jesus had any fear,
it was that the evil one would snatch away one of his loyal companions
after he was gone. Without him there to protect them, they were at risk.

 

                                             John 17:16-17, NIV
16 "They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify
them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the
world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify
myself, that they too may be truly sanctified."


January 24, 2012
These disciples were no more sons of this world than Jesus was.
Instead they were sons of their Father in heaven. Well, not entirely.
They were still very human just as we are. Although they aspired to
please Jesus in everything they did, they were still flesh and blood
like us.

So Jesus consecrated them, asking God to make them holy and help
them to live free from sin. The text says Jesus dedicated himself to
God first so that those who believe in him may dedicate themselves
to the high purposes of God also. This is truly a holy moment in
Jesus' prayer.

Dear God, sanctify us by the truth of your word. So that being sent
into the world, we may love as you have loved us, persevere to the
end as Jesus did, and speak as the Holy Spirit instructs us.

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