“I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. “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. 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. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. ” (John 17:9–19, NIV)So Jesus recognizes that His disciples were given to Him by God and they belong to Him and so He prays for their protection, knowing that only God has the authority and the power to answer His prayer. He says, “Protect them in the power of your name so that they may be one as we are one.” So what does this mean to be one as Jesus and His Father are one?
When Jesus prays for oneness, He is speaking of the unity He has with the Father in both will and purpose. It is this unity that guides Him to complete the mission that He was sent to accomplish. Just think about His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. He said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” ” (Luke 22:42, NIV)
Unity of will and purpose. Oneness.
I think what He says about Judas confirms this idea. Judas was doomed for destruction because he was not united in the will and purpose of God. Clearly, Judas had his own plans motivated by his own selfish desires. There was no unity of will and purpose. No oneness with the disciples or with God. And so He perished by choosing to go his own way. And this tells us that any path away from God is a path that leads to destruction.
And so Jesus prays that His disciples, given to Him by God, would continue the mission, united in will and purpose, even after He is gone. “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world,” Jesus says, “but keep them safe from the evil one.” Jesus knows that the hostility that He has encountered will soon shift to the disciples. The easiest thing to do would be to remove them from the world. But when there are no disciples, the mission of God dies. Remove all the lights and sin is unexposed. And where there is no perception of sin, there is no need for a Savior.
A follower of Christ must believe that God is strong enough to preserve His people and His mission is dependent upon their trusting Him enough to live in the world but not of the world. Christians are not called to segregate from society nor are they commanded by Jesus to try and make the world a better place. The mission of the disciple of Christ is not to recreate the Garden of Eden by restoring heaven on earth. There is something much deeper than peace and comfort, not to mention the fact that Jesus said this world is not our home. This idea reminds me of the burial rights of the ancient Egyptians. When they discovered the tomb of King Tut, for example, they found him buried in beautiful ornate clothes. He was surrounded by gold and jewelry. They made his grave into a palace. When our goal is to make this world a better place in order to live a happy and peaceful life, we too are making a grave into a palace.
Jesus calls His followers to something different. Something deeper. Jesus left His disciples in the world to be unified in the will of God so that they might carry out the purpose of God. That has to be our undivided focus. What happens in the world is up to the creator of the world. Whatever part I play is up to Him to decide. My involvement is under His authority, based on His calling, according to His plan of redemption.
Whose plan are you following today. Like Judas, do you follow your own plan for your own purpose ultimately motivated by the selfish desire of “what’s best for me”?
Or do you surrender your will to the will of God. Trusting in His promises and relying on the hope of something far greater than anything this world has to offer?