15 May 2013

John 17:11-19

“I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.” (v. 15)

Background: Covered by prayer

Chapter 17 of John's Gospel is often referred to as the prayer of our Lord. It reveals more of the compassion that Jesus had for his disciples and the commission he knew that were called to fulfil. Today's passage gives the opportunity to listen in to a Jesus' prayer which reads more like a heart-warming and soul-strengthening conversation.

Jesus is aware of what each disciple had been called from and what they had become while they were with him. He knew their strengths and weakness, their chequered histories and their hope-filled futures. He understood them and the world in which they lived, and his prayer for their protection and preservation reflect that.

If any of the disciples were eavesdropping, they would have heard Jesus pray for them not to be taken out of the world, but to be kept from the evil of it as they went about in it. Jesus didn't mention any names, and perhaps didn't need to, because even though he of all people know them in their uniqueness and diversity, he also seemed to recognise that their need for protection and preservation were the same. That said, the deep sense of commitment to them as individuals and his love for them is evident in phrases like "I guarded them and not one of them is lost except the one destined to be lost" (v. 12).

These nine verses are not Jesus' last will and testament, nor the most popular life cover of its kind at that time. This part of Jesus' prayer comprehensively covers all the disciples for the whole of their lives, and beyond. It demonstrates the depth and breadth of the love of God for humanity, and in particular for those who follow him.

To Ponder

  • What does this segment of Jesus' prayer demonstrate to you?
  • Which part of this prayer speaks to you today?
  • How will you pray for other people who are following Jesus, and those who are not?

Bible notes author

The Revd Katei Kirby

The Revd Katei Kirby is currently heading up the Belonging Together project in the Connexional Team. This initiative celebrates the Methodist Church's ethnic diversity, and seeks to embed this at all levels of the Church's life and ministry of the Church.