It is interesting that in John 17, Jesus prayed for our sanctification, protection, and unity, and not for our power, political majority, or religious rights to grow. I think what he prayed for was the right stuff and enough stuff. It is everything we need…
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.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Jesus is praying for his disciples, which for all intents and purposes includes us, and we can learn some things about our identity and God’s purpose in the process. In verse 20, Jesus clarifies that he is praying not only for the Apostles, but also for those who will believe in Jesus through them – that’s us!
Jesus desires for us to have his joy made full in us as he returned to heaven. He was no longer going to be in the world with them, and so he prays for them. Not only that, he also gave us the Father’s word in his teaching while on earth to prepare his followers for life in the world as God’s ambassadors.
Jesus prayed that the world hated his disciples, and we are promised a similar fate – we are not loved by the world, but rather are often hated by the world. Why? Jesus attributes this to our identity and citizenship. “They are not of this world, even as I am not of this world.” As citizens of heaven, we are strangers here just as Jesus was. Our purpose and message and worldview are Jesus’ and are often offensive to the world.
I would hope that our tone and expression and approach are not offensive, which unfortunately I see play out over and over in the news and on social media. We don’t need our approach to be offensive in order to attract persecution. Being Jesus’ followers is enough.
In this situation, however, as Jesus knows what we will face in our lives and what glory awaits in heaven, does not take us with him. He leaves us. In fact, he specifically prays that he is not asking for his followers to be taken out, but rather that Father God will protect them from the evil one and give them unity.
He prays for his followers to be set apart in the truth of Jesus’ teaching. And we need that. We need a focus and reliance on the word of truth in this world if we are to withstand the pressure to not follow Jesus. And if we are to fulfill our mission. As Jesus was sent into the world by the Father, we are sent into the world to share the message of redemption and freedom also.
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus prayed for our sanctification, protection, and unity, and not for our power, political majority, or religious rights to grow? I actually think what he prayed for was the right stuff and enough stuff.
In Jesus, we have everything we need. Just follow him.