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John’s gospel post 74: Protection

March 26, 2014

“He’s a stranger in a strange land, from a world far away” – Spock’s Beard – Stranger in a strange land (from the album “Snow”)

John 17:6 – 19

Jesus continues in his prayer, but turns his attention from himself to others. Jesus, as he has said only recently to Philip, affirms that he has revealed God to those that God has given to him. Those that God has chosen to be his followers – his disciples (strange so far into the story that John has told us very few of these men’s names!).

“They were yours and you have given them to me”. It was no accident that these men were following him. And as they followed, he showed them God. And Jesus says “these men obeyed your word”. What does that mean? Did they get everything right? Did they live perfect lives? Evidently not. They frequently failed to understand what Jesus had to say to them. They were puzzled by his words and got things wrong. Just like us. God did not choose superhuman followers for his son. And he still doesn’t.

They blew it as we do, and yet they are described as obedient. One thing it seems most of the disciples wanted to do was follow Jesus. Even Thomas. Especially Peter. That was their obedience, not their perfection. They received Jesus words as words from God (not without questioning of course!). They believed that God had sent Jesus. Some of their bold statements about him even as early as Philip and Nathaniel at the beginning show this. They were never looking to follow a clever teacher. This was THE ONE.

It is for these disciples that Jesus now prays. Not for anyone else. For them. Jesus and his Father share everything. And he is pleased with disciples who have brought glory to God. We are not told exactly what Jesus is referring to but perhaps he is looking at the high points rather than the low. A lesson in looking for the best in people.

As we know the time is coming. He has made it plain to his disciples. “I’m leaving soon, but they are staying” – they need prayer.

Jesus prays for the protection of his followers.

He prays for unity among his followers.

Jesus had been doing this job until now. The only one he had not been able to protect was Judas, the betrayer.

He wants his disciples to experience joy.

These followers don’t belong in this world. They are from a different kingdom. God’s kingdom. But right now they remain here and that is right. Jesus is not looking to whisk them away, but to leave them here to do a job.

As his followers they are hated and misunderstood. They need protection.

Jesus prays that the disciples should be sanctified. Holy. A people who stand out from the crowd. For they are being sent out into the world to work for him.

The marks of the disciples of Jesus:

United.

Joyful.

Holy.

If those things were true of his followers then are they not true of his followers today?

Read your typical headline involving Jesus followers. Is it all about unity and joy? Or is it about disunity and a killjoy spirit? Is it about a holy standing out from the crowd? Or is it just religious weirdness?

If the disciples needed Jesus’ prayer, then so do we surely.

Speaking of which….

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From → Christianity

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