Today’s readings.. (2 Chronicles 16,17), (Ezekiel 48), (John 17,18)
The final prayer of Jesus before his arrest is intensely moving – it provokes the profoundest thoughts as we absorb its meaning into our minds. We could have expected Jesus to concentrate his thoughts inward, on himself and establish a conviction of mind that his will must become the same as his Father’s will – and the other gospels show that he did this in the garden by the Mount of Olives (see Luke 22 v.39-46 and other gospels)
John’s record as “the disciple whom Jesus (specially) loved” (ch. 21 v.7,20 &c) enables him to record his Master’s intensely personal prayer that we read today in John ch. 17. We read how Jesus “lifted up his eyes to heaven” and said, “”The hour has come …” [v.1] and there follows, after he has stated his deep awareness that his Father is “glorified” in what he has done and is about to do; he says (v.6) “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world.”
The “name” of the Father can be understood as his intimate involvement with those called to serve him, as the disciples were, they became “worthy” of his name” (see Acts 5 v.41), worthy of some degree of ‘reflection’ in their characters, of his name.. One was “lost … the son of destruction” [v.12] For all the others, he said in prayer, “I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world …” [v.8,9]
Then Jesus makes the point. “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” [v.14] What does it mean to be “not of the world”? It is a way of emphasizing the big difference between those who have their values and focus on this world and those whose minds are alive to “heavenly things.” (remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus – ch. 3 v.12)
Jesus prays that his father “will keep them from evil” (AV – the Gk text does not have ‘evil one’) Jesus then states again, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” [v.16,17] The word ‘Sanctify’ means to set apart to become holy – and “thy word – God’s word, the Bible, is an essential ingredient for that to happen.
But how do we use that ‘ingredient’ in our lives? We must each ask ourselves that question. Just how well-nourished is my mind? Let us all give ourselves an honest answer.