John 17:6-19 – “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. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 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. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 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. 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. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 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. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
After praying for Himself, Jesus proceeds to pray for His followers who would come to believe in Him as God and would subsequently bring the good news of His person and work to the world.
Jesus prays for our keeping:
In our relationship with God, the wonderful news is that “if we are faithless, he remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). Our God is rock steady in His love, devotion, and character. When we wander, He waits for us to return and never closes His heart toward us as Christians. Our Father loves us and is completely committed to “keeping” us. We maintain our relationship with God because God keeps us.
If you have a painful history with a ministry leader who completely abandoned the faith, the story of Judas is meant to provide clarity for you. If you have a loved one who has strayed from the Lord but you believe they are genuinely saved, the story of the prodigal son is meant to provide comfort for you.
Jesus prays for godly unity over demonic division:
God works through unity, and Satan works through division. There was no division until Satan chose to become independent, rebel, and cause division by recruiting angels to become demons in a coup attempt. On earth, Satan continues to recruit human beings to join the demons in their division against God.
However, unity does not mean uniformity. Like any family, God’s family has a lot of diversity. Different Christians can have different methods for how they live their lives while maintaining unity on the principles behind them. In the church family, this unity is to be theological (what we believe), relational (how we love), missional (what we do), and organizational (how we coexist). The church is a big family, and like any big family, unity has to be the priority and comes at a cost.
Jesus prays for our joy:
Jesus’ next words in this portion of the prayer are about joy. Simply put, the life of a Christian, like the life of Jesus, is not always marked by great comfort, wealth, health, ease, or simplicity. Nevertheless, it is filled with the presence of God and the purpose of God so that all we have, do, and endure can and will be used to glorify God and benefit others as it was with Jesus when He went to the cross.
Our joy is not found, then, by our current state in the world (that place of sin and rebellion against God), but rather by the presence and power of God in us even while we are in the world. For this, we rejoice because, for the Christian, this world is as close to hell as we will ever get, and we are almost home to heaven.
- Do you currently pray for Christians? How can you improve in this practice?
- Are you living in a way that is unified with fellow believers? How?
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