Tuesday

20 January 2015

“Jesus said, ‘... Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.’” (v. 11b)

Psalm: Psalm 84


  Background

Today's passage, the central section of John 17, is Jesus' prayer that his Holy Father will protect his disciples so that they may be one (verse 11) as they continue his mission in the world (verse 18). At the end of the previous chapter, Jesus warned his disciples that the hour had come when they would all be scattered, each to their own home, and they would leave him alone (John 16:32). In verses 6-8, he is much more positive about them; so, for example, he says that they have kept God's word.

It is important to appreciate that John's Gospel uses the Greek word 'kosmos', which is translated 'world', in a number of ways. For example, he makes it clear that, in its broadest sense, the world is everything and everyone, created and loved by God; he also uses it to talk of the social world which hates Jesus and his disciples. In this passage, we read that the disciples are in the world (verse 11a) but do not belong to the world (verse 14), and that Jesus does not want them to be taken out of the world (verse 15) but has sent them into the world (verse 18).

It is in this context that Jesus asked his holy Father to protect the disciples so that they may be one as he and his Father are one (verse 11b); a little later he asked God to protect them from the evil one because they are in the world but, like Jesus, do not belong to the world (verses 15-16). Then Jesus asked, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth" (verse 17). That last phrase has a double-meaning because, for John, Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14) and is the truth (John 14:6).


To Ponder

  • Where and in what ways do you think the disciples of Jesus need to be protected today? How does this relate to the request in the Lord's Prayer asking God to "deliver us from evil"?
  • How do you see the relationship between the Church and the world? How does this influence the way you understand and share in God's mission?


Bible notes writer: The Revd Neil Stubbens

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