Jesus’ concern for his disciples

The world needs you!

Jesus had a special relationship with twelve men whom he called apostles. He selected them to be the ones who were with him to hear his teaching and to see the miraculous signs. Most were convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the son of God, although one betrayed him. We can see that special relationship between these disciples and Jesus in his prayer to God. He prayed specifically for them, knowing what they would face when he was no longer in the world.

“I have revealed your name to the people you gave me from this world…They truly understood that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I’m praying for them. I’m not praying for the world but for those you gave me, because they are yours. Everything that is mine is yours and everything that is yours is mine; I have been glorified in them. I’m no longer in the world, but they are in the world, even as I’m coming to you. Holy Father, watch over them in your name, the name you gave me, that they will be one just as we are one. When I was with them, I watched over them in your name, the name you gave to me, and I kept them safe. None of them were lost, except the one who was destined for destruction, so that scripture would be fulfilled.” (John 17:6-12 CEB)

Don’t you wish we had recorded all that Jesus told the disciples about God? What we know is that the information he gave them allowed them to be certain as to who he is. They knew he had come from the Father, and that he had been sent by the Father.

But he was leaving them and the world – he knew what was going to happen over the next few hours concluding with his death by crucifixion. He also knew this was not his end – he would come back to life defeating death. But he knew that he would no longer be living with them in the world. It was time for him to return to the Father and for the Spirit to come (read John 14-16). So he prayed that the Father would protect them and that their unity would be like that of Jesus and the Father. He was concerned that they have each other to gain strength from, as he did from the Father.

“Now I’m coming to you and I say these things while I’m in the world so that they can share completely in my joy. I gave your word to them and the world hated them, because they don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world. I’m not asking that you take them out of this world but that you keep them safe from the evil one. They don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t belong to this world. Make them holy in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. I made myself holy on their behalf so that they also would be made holy in the truth.” (John 17:13-19)

Jesus knew that they would be hated by those in the world. Why? Because they didn’t belong to them. But he didn’t ask that they be taken out of the world. Again we could ask ‘why?’ One answer would be because the world needed them. They were needed to take the good news of Jesus throughout the world. Even though many would hate them, others would believe as they had believed. But Jesus prayed that the evil one might not be able to harm them.

Although this prayer was for the twelve, I think we can see application for our lives as Christians. We, too, are often hated. Yet we need to continue to proclaim the good news of Jesus so people can by made holy through the truth, just as was being done almost 2,000 years ago.

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Readings for next week: John 15-19


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Author: Forthright

Jon serves the East Kilbride congregation in Glasgow, Scotland, as an elder and teacher. He is on the leadership team of the British Bible School.