As we open the Scripture today, we must keep in mind that what we are reading is a prayer of our Lord. He is having a conversation with the Father, and in this passage He is referring to the disciples that He would soon be leaving. The largest part of the Lord’s prayer in John chapter 17 is devoted to His disciples. The prayer continues Jesus’ theme in the Upper Room Discourse of preparing those men for His departure. He had taught them all that He could, and now He prays for them. On the last night of Jesus’ life on earth, He spends much of His time in prayer. He prays here in John 17. We also know that He prayed in Gethsemane.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
They have Believed [6-8]
The Father had given these men to Christ, and Christ manifested the Father’s name to them. We know that the disciples that the Lord Jesus had gathered to Himself were weak men on several occasions. Jesus said, “O, you of little faith” quite a few times during His ministry. In fact, Christ has already predicted that they would desert Him. In John 16:32, Christ said, “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” Yet, Jesus acknowledges their proper response to the Gospel. They may have been weak, but they had put their faith in Christ. They may have had very little understanding of the things that He said at first, but they never doubted that Christ was from the Father or that His words were not true.
I Pray for Them [9-10] Care
Jesus states in verse nine of His prayer that His concern was restricted to only the eleven men who were with Him. At this time, His prayer is not for the world. You can see the Lord’s great care for His people. Verse ten shows that the Father and Son share in all things. God cares for His people and is glorified in them. We know that God loves the world (John 3:16 “For God so loved the world…”), but He loves His own in an exceptional way. It is your life that He has re-birthed. The Father calls you His child. He has sent His Spirit to dwell in you. There is nothing that can separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, if you continue in the faith.
That They May be One [11-13] Protection
Throughout the Upper Room Discourse Jesus told His disciples that He would be leaving. He acknowledges to the Father that He was going back to His previous state of glory. He asks that the Father continue to protect those who had put their faith in the One who was sent. The Lord’s keeping of the disciples was to bring unity. They were to be one, and so are we. Our culture has promoted independence and privacy, of which I hold near and dear. Americans have built a great country by working hard, supporting themselves and their own families, and by minding their own business. To some degree these are Christian principles as well. But, I must add that Christians are to be loyal to one another. We are to be uniquely united with one another and devoted to one another in love. We all bear the same name because we have the same Lord.
Listen carefully, God cares for you and seeks to protect you in Jesus Christ. He also wants your joy to be fulfilled. The men were about to face great pressure, persecution, and many problems. Jesus had kept those men while He was in the world, but now the Father must keep them because Christ was leaving. Despite their gloomy future, Jesus intended that the disciples be united and He intended to fulfill their joy. Even in the worst of situations, your joy can be full.
Keep Them from the Evil One [14-15] Preservation
The reason that the disciples could be said to be “not of the world” is somehow linked to them receiving the Word of God. I think this point is crucial. What is it that makes you outstanding from this world? You have received the revelation of God. You have received, believed, and kept the Word of God, which has at its center the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus was not praying that the Father would take His disciples out of the world. He was praying that the Father would keep them from the evil one. When we come to the faith, when we accept Christ, we are not plucked out of this world and taken to heaven. We are left here, obviously with a task to do. I am convinced that we should use this time as a preparatory period. We should prepare ourselves for Christ’s return, and we should reach out to others in an effort to prepare them as well. Christ is confident in His prayer that the Father will keep He has already prayed for the disciples protection. Now He prays for their preservation.
Sanctify Them by Your Truth [16-19] Sanctification
We must live in this world, but not be “of the world.” We are called out of this present wicked age to be sanctified by God’s truth. The truth that we are called to and made holy by is the word of God. Sanctification is the progress of the believer’s life in Christ. It is growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is done by the truth, the very word of God written on the pages of Holy Scripture, and by the inner working of the Holy Spirit.
The eleven disciples with Jesus that last night had been called out of the world by believing on the Son of God who was sent by the Father to redeem mankind from the curse of sin. Christ Himself prayed to the heavenly Father in order that His hand of care may continue on them, His arms of protection may continue to surround them, and so that they may be preserved from the world and the evil one. They would be sanctified by the truth that they had already believed by continuing to grow in a knowledge of it.