Soon they would be soloing. Their three-year apprenticeship would give way to their life’s calling. But the world had changed a lot over the three years since they first met Jesus.
Actually, it wasn’t the world that had changed, it was them. Before meeting Jesus His disciples were of the world, but not anymore. Just as their Master had been in the world but not of the world, so they too now marched to the beat of a different drummer. But their Master was about to leave this world. They however, were not. And just as the world had hated Jesus, it would develop a distaste for His followers as well.
And so, before leaving — before the cross, His burial, His resurrection and ascension — Jesus prays for His disciples. His prayer closet? An upper room in which He has washed their feet, instituted a feast, promised them a Helper, and now, on the eve of His betrayal, intercedes for them. And what does the Son ask of the Father concerning those who are not of this world but will be left in this world? Keep them. Sanctify them.
“I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
(John 17:15-17 ESV)
Keep them. Sanctify them. Don’t let them out of Your sight. Set them apart as holy. Attend to them carefully. Replicate My character in them completely. Protect them wholly. Make them holy. That’s the ask.
That was Jesus’ prayer for His disciples. But He prayed that night not only for those in the upper room. He prayed as well for those who would come to believe in Jesus, and choose to follow Jesus, through their word (Jn. 17:20). And . . . that would be me.
As a follower of Jesus I too am in the world, not of the world. Shouldn’t be surprised if I end up on the wrong side of popular opinion. Shouldn’t be discouraged if I find myself going against the flow. Also shouldn’t forget that I’ve been prayed for: “Father, keep them, sanctify them.”
Kept through the Helper sent at Pentecost. Sealed by the promised Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come (Eph. 1:13-14).
Sanctified by the truth. A work in progress, being made holy as He is holy through His holy word.
I can be so caught up in “being in the world but not of the world” that I can sometimes think I’m going it alone in the world. Nope. Not the case.
I believe the Father is faithfully answering the Son’s prayer. Keeping me. Sanctifying me. Even as He has said He would never leave me, nor forsake me (Heb. 13:5).
A good reminder this morning. Worth chewing on. Worth resting in.
Being kept. Being sanctified.
By His grace. For His glory.