“While I was with them, I was protecting them by your name that you have given me. I guarded them and not one of them is lost, except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture may be fulfilled. Now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy completed in them. I have given them your word. The world hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I am not praying that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. I sanctify myself for them, so that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”John 17: 12-19
Jesus was praying for his disciples before he died. This is where we find him in John 17. His hour is coming, it’s time to give up his life, and yet here he is, on his knees, asking the father to protect and remain with his friends. At every step of the road, Jesus thought about his friends. He thought about us.
In this passage Jesus prays for his followers knowing full well the trouble that is going to lie ahead of them. He knows that the world is going to reject them, that they will constantly be under attack from the evil one. He knew that about them and he knows that about us.
Look, though, at what our Jesus says “I am not praying that you take them out of the world but that you protect them” (v. 15). He knows that we have work here on this earth. He knows that there are things that can only be done by those who know him and serve him. He is calling each of us to be in the world, even when it is messy and ugly. Even when it is hard enough to love our fellow believers let alone our enemies.
He knew this was coming. He knew that one day a society that long turned away from him would endure a global pandemic and then be hit with an awakening into the pain and trauma of an entire people. And he chose us to walk through it, friends. He chose you, he chose me.
And even more importantly, he has given us the same tools that he gave his disciples: he gave them God’s word (v.14). And he’s given it to us, friends. He has given us the truth because we know that God’s word is truth (v. 17) and in it we can find real help for this day. We can find the solution to every issue because every problem is solved in the life and sacrifice of Jesus. Are you tired and weary from Covid-19? He says come to me and I will give you rest! Are you not sure how to address systemic racism and bear the trauma of the black community? He says love your neighbours as yourself! All our roads lead back to the cross. Let’s go to it, with hearts open and ready to truly live out the truth of God’s word.