6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. 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. 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.
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. 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.
(John 17:6-19 NIV)
As we noted yesterday, the entire text of Chapter 17 is Jesus’ final prayer with His disciples. In verses 1 – 5, Jesus prayed for Himself, focusing on two themes: glory and unity.
In verses 6 – 19, Jesus now switches the focus of His prayer from Himself to His disciples. Jesus’ prayer for His disciples is unity and protection. Jesus knows what is in store for His disciples. In chapters 15 and 16, Jesus had warned His disciples that the world would hate them because of their association with Him. Jesus said that they would be persecuted, cast out of Jewish society, and even killed because of their relationship to Him.
In verses 6 – 9, Jesus tells His Father that He has completed the work His Father gave Him to do with the disciples. Jesus has given the disciples His Father’s words, and they have accepted those words and believed that Jesus came from the Father.
In verse 6, Jesus says that the Father gave Him the disciples; in verses 11b – 12a, Jesus gives them back to the Father and prays for their protection when He leaves to go back to the Father. Jesus asks the Father to protect the disciples by the power of His name.
How powerful is God’s name? Let’s look at just a few examples:
The name of theLord is a strong tower;
The righteous runs into it and is safe.
(Proverbs 18:10 NASB)
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
(Psalm 20:7 NIV)
The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
(Psalm 102:15 NIV)
Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”
(Psalm 116:4 NIV)
Your name, Lord, endures forever, your renown, Lord, through all generations.
(Psalm 135:13 NIV)
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:9-11 NIV, speaking of Jesus)
In verses 15, 16, and 18, Jesus prays for His disciple’s protection in the world. Jesus does not ask that the disciples be removed from the world, but to remain in it and carry forth the Good News of God’s love and redemption for the world.
In verses 17 and 19, Jesus prays that His disciples will be sanctified. That’s a big “church word”, but what does it mean? And what does it matter?
To sanctify means to make holy, to set aside for a sacred purpose. It’s the same idea as having two sets of dishes – a set that you use every day, and another set that you set aside and only use on special occasions. Jesus is saying that His disciples are holy, set apart to be used by God to change the world. Jesus prayed that the truth of God’s words would set them apart from the rest of the world. In verse 19, Jesus sanctifies Himself, sets Himself aside for the redemption of His disciples (and the rest of the world), a job that only He can do.
In today’s passage, Jesus was praying specifically for His disciples. Tomorrow we will see Jesus praying for us. There are still many faith lessons we can learn from Jesus’ prayer.
One simple but powerful truth that we can store as truth in the deepest part of our souls is the power of God’s name. The above scripture passages about God’s name show us we can rest in His name, call upon His name in our distress, and trust in His name.
May we meditate on that truth today, allowing the power of God’s name to sink into the deepest parts of who we are.
May we worship His name as an act of love and gratitude for who He is and what He has done for us.