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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, 2012Jesus 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, 2012Not 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, 2012Here 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, 2012These 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.