“For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They… believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me.” (John 17:8-9)
The Feast of Weeks is just a week away. It is also called the Feast of Pentecost. It falls due seven weeks after the Feast of Passover. While Passover was transformed by the True Lamb of God slain once for all, and His Victorious Resurrection, the Pentecost was transformed by the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower the disciples for the mission Jesus left them with. But before this time, Jesus was taken up to heaven in a dramatic style witnessed by many disciples and recorded in Acts 1:6-11. This fulfilled the prophecy he echoed many times: ‘I will remain in the world no longer… I am coming to you’ (John 17:11) and in many other places in the Gospels. Jesus did many things to prepare for this situation – to arrange for his disciples spiritual welfare while He is gone; I consider this as most important part of that preparation: Jesus looked into heaven and prayed for his disciples.
The entire John 17 chapter is a record of important prayers that Jesus addressed to his Father. For now let us focus on two important aspects of these prayers: protection and sanctification. His prayer was for God to ‘protect them by the power of your name; … not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one’. Jesus is aware of the dangerous wild animals around us; he is aware of opportunistic enemies; and he is aware of the father of all lies, the devil, who prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom to devour. Are you afraid of an approaching leopard? Are you afraid of destructive elephants? Are you afraid of enemies who pretend to be your friends? Jesus prayed for every believer’s protection against the chief enemy, the greatest disaster, the evil one. With this protection, be confident that a thousand may fall to your right, ten thousand to your left, but you will remain safe and secure in the Lord’s caring arms.
The other prayer was for God to ‘Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.’ Here is the remedy for those whose minds just can’t settle; those whose minds have been corrupted with perversion; those whose hand can’t let go of that dangerous drink or that wicked woman. God’s Word has power to sanctify and heal the mind and the body; He has the power to break bondages of every kind and set the slaves free to live in the Kingdom of God. Jesus prayed that you would be sanctified by God’s Word. Give thanks to the Lord who prayed for you; accept and walk in the protection and sanctification that He claimed for you; only by these shall we follow Him to eternity in the presence of the Father.