He was leaving the world, but they weren’t. He was going back to heaven, they would have to gut it out on earth. He was returning to His Father, they would now be clearly in the crosshairs of the enemy. He would again be adored by a heavenly host, they would be hated by the world. And so, on the night He was betrayed, after washing their feet, promising them He’d return for them, and pledging to them the indwelling of the Holy Spirit after His departure, Jesus prayed for His own.
And even as His work on earth was about to come to an end, the Son of God pledged to be all in.
“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate Myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” ~ Jesus
(John 17:17-19 ESV)
The work was soon to be finished, but Jesus wasn’t about to retire. The earth assignment, and all its humiliation and hardship would soon be over, but Jesus wasn’t returning to heaven to kick back and put up His feet for some well deserved R&R. Nope, not the way it was going to work. “For their sake,” Jesus said as He anticipated His departure, “I consecrate Myself.”
To be sure, in the immediate sense Jesus was setting Himself apart as the once for all sacrifice for sin. Dedicating Himself for the great work of redemption and reconciliation that would be accomplished through the cross. The Son of God separating Himself to fill the role of Lamb of God come to take away the sin of the world (Jn. 1:29). He would consecrate Himself that they might be saved.
But Jesus would also consecrate Himself that they might be sanctified. He would sanctify Himself that they might be consecrated. He who was already holy, holy, holy would dedicate Himself to their holiness–a work, He knew, which would be a work in progress. Yet, kick-started through the righteousness that would be credited to their account because of faith (Rom. 3:21-22).
Jesus was all in. Pledging Himself for their purification. Making Himself eternally available, through the Holy Spirit, for their mission. Teaching them all they would need to know, and that through the truth. Having given them God’s word (17:14), He would sanctify them through God’s word. And that too, through the Holy Spirit, the One who would lead them into all truth (16:13).
And for their sake I consecrate Myself.
Having left this world, but promising never to leave or forsake them (Heb. 13:5b). No longer walking this planet, but living in His people through the Spirit. No longer praying for us from an upper room, but, even now, still interceding for us at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Rom. 8:34).
All in. The same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).
O what a Savior! O come lest us adore Him!
By His grace. For His glory.