John 17:10-26 — Oneness, holiness, protection, preservation: all included in Jesus’ prayer for us.
Jesus wasn’t trying to burnish His record at the end of His life. He wasn’t self-deluded, attempting to paint failure into looking like success. Again, Jesus was judging rightly and righteously. He knew exactly what He was talking about. The Father knew the utter truthfulness of what the Son had just said. God knew those men had already become tributes of His faithfulness and grace, of His teaching and discipling, of His keeping and perfecting. He knew the best was yet to come in their lives.
The disciples heard Jesus’ testimony of them to His Father. They heard the Advocate speaking in their favor. What a comfort for Jesus’ disciples then and now!
Jesus would shortly leave the world to return to the Father in Heaven. His disciples would stay behind. Would they stay true? Only One who is holy could keep Jesus’ followers while they are in the world. So Jesus asked His Holy Father to keep His disciples. Despite the good report Jesus gave of His good work in them, they still needed to be kept by God. Jesus was not about to leave His disciples to their own devices and their own strength.
Jesus wanted His disciples to be one as the Trinity is one. He desired that His followers have an intertwined identity and relationship such as exists in the Godhead. Only the Holy Father’s keeping could bring about something so incomprehensible. He would do that. He would keep them in Him. He would keep them together.
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In the World and Kept by the Father part of Jesus’ prayer for us
Disciples of Jesus are no more of the world than their Master is! For that, the world hates them and Him. And yet the Lord didn’t ask the Father to take them out of the world. That’s where Jesus wanted them. In fact, He “sent them into the world.”
Since the Light of the world was leaving, He wanted to leave lights behind (John 9:5; Matthew 5:14). Removing Christians from the world removes the light of the world. Removing Christians from the world removes them from the battle for men’s souls. Jesus wants us in that battle, but He wants the Father to protect us in it.
With so much evil in the world, including the wicked one, Jesus’ disciples needed protection and preservation. Up to this point, Jesus had kept His disciples (John 17:12). Now Jesus was preparing to die and eventually depart from the world. So He petitioned the Father to keep His disciples in the world and to keep His disciples from the evil.
We need the Father’s keeping in the world. So we don’t absorb the world and become like it. So we don’t make friendship with the world, becoming the Father’s enemies thereby. So we don’t succumb to the wiles and onslaughts of the evil one. If any of those happen to us, we can do the world no good and the cause of Christ, for which we have been sent, suffers great harm.
Sanctified by His Truth another part of Jesus’ prayer for us
Jesus made another request to the Father for His disciples: “Sanctify them through thy truth.” This is how we become holy and continue in holiness: God works in us through His Word of truth. In other words, this is how God keeps us from the evil.
Sanctification is also the purpose for which He keeps us from the evil. He wants to keep us exclusively for Himself. He wants us to set ourselves aside for Him as a living sacrifice, just as the chosen animals were set aside for sacrifice in the Old Testament.
This is also how we are not of the world despite being in it. Yielding to the work of truth effects sanctification and holiness. For a clean heart and godly life, live in obedience to God’s Word (Psalm 119:9). It just isn’t enough to read and memorize the Scriptures, as essential as both of those exercises are. Continuing in this truth sets us free from evil and unholiness, establishing us as disciples of Jesus (John 8:32).
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Divine Oneness in the Church included in Jesus’s prayer for us
Jesus’ prayer for all believers was that we would be one in God. We shouldn’t seek Christian unity in any other way nor on any other basis. One wonderful result of this union of the believers in God seems so contrary to rational thought: the world — despite its hatred and opposition — knows and believes that God sent Jesus into the world. Thus, when Christians aren’t united, their witness becomes for the world a stumblingblock to faith, rather than the stepping stone it should be. The oneness of God’s people with God is so observable that even the world can see it! Or not.
Christ’s indwelling presence in each believer makes God’s people complete in one. By this the world also knows the Father loves Jesus’ disciples as He loves the Son. Such an incomprehensible generosity of love! The love shared within the triune Godhead is shared with us humans!
This heavenly love isn’t just poured upon us; it is also poured into us (v. 26). God doesn’t just direct His love to us; He also channels it through us. We are to love one another as we have been loved — with the love of God “shed abroad in our hearts” (Romans 5:5).
(The above material comes from my writings for two lessons for CLE’s upcoming new high school Bible course on the Gospel of John.)
United in Jesus by Jesus His plan and prayer for us
Plenty of things exist that could naturally and easily cause division and contention between me and Brother Tsion. Some of our preferences, opinions, perspectives, and convictions differ. Our personalities don’t mesh readily. We come from vastly different backgrounds. So how shall we avoid being divisive and contentious? Well, we could just avoid each other. The congregation could make rules to keep us in line. We could compromise our convictions and suppress our personalities. We could force ourselves to put up with each other. We could even pretend to agree.
I suppose any one of those could help a little in keeping our differences from igniting contention. And surely implementing all of them would defeat division. But that isn’t good enough in the church! And it certainly isn’t God’s solution.
God won’t settle for the mere absence of outright conflict and division. He wants and expects inner unity among His people. So Jesus came to be that common union that brings together even polar opposites. “He is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). Jesus is our bond. Because of Him, even Brother Tsion and I can be one.
Excerpted from Jesus, Our Common Union
Such amazing, wondrous work of God within and among the followers of Jesus!
- Oneness of the kind within and among the Trinity!
- Love of the kind within and among the Trinity!
- Glory of the kind within and among the Trinity!
Excerpted from Division: Contrary to Christian Character