The Shepherd’s Prayer (part 2)
Jesus Prayed For The Unity Of His Church
John 17:11-23 (KJV) And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.  And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:  I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Photo by Branislav Belko on Unsplash
Last Wednesday we looked at the “Shepherd’s Prayer” in John 17. As Jesus was preparing for the Cross of Calvary He prayed not that He would avoid that trial, but that His Church would be in one accord. Jesus had already set His mind on the Cross. He no longer saw Himself as “in the world”. He said:
John 17:11 (KJV) And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
Jesus spoke as if the Cross had already happened, spoke as if He was already crucified, buried, resurrected, and on the right hand of God the Father. He spoke this way because His mind was not set on satisfying the world, nor those who are of the world. Jesus was focused 100 percent on doing what the Father told Him to do. He prayed that the disciples whom He was going to leave would be as committed to obeying and living by the Word and Will of God as He was.
Jesus Prayed That His Church Be One
With God – Not With The World
Jesus prayed to His Father and every Christian’s Father:
Holy Father, keep through thine own name
those whom thou hast given me
Let’s break this down. Our Father is the “Holy Father”. This term occurs only here in the Bible. The word “Father” emphasizes that every Christian is born into the Family of God. God is not merely “God” to us, but He is the “Father”, the Head of the Godhead, the One Whom we obey.
The Christian is a walking miracle.
We were born in this world, and this world was in our hearts. But Christ calls us out of the world and into an intimate relationship with the Father. Being “Born Again” is more than to be religious. A religious leader called Nicodemus came to see Jesus at night. Jesus told this Rabbi:
John 3:3 (KJV) … Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot SEE the kingdom of God.
No one can “see” (εἴδω eídō, pronounced i’-do) the Kingdom of God unless they are “born again”. The word “see” means “to perceive with the senses”.
Before a baby is born it knows nothing but darkness and warmth and the beat of its mother’s heart. But once the baby is born it leaves the darkness of the womb and enters into the world to see light. But that baby can only perceive the things of this world because of sin resident in it. We are born the first time as sinners. This is why the Bible says:
Romans 3:23 (KJV) For ALL have SINNED, and come short of the glory of God;
We are bound in darkness like that baby. We must be brought into the light. The person born into this world can only perceive that which is around them. They must be born again so that they can enter into the family of God. It is the Word of God that causes our new birth. The written Word tells us of Christ’s Gospel. That Word is planted in our hearts. When we believe that Word God through His Spirit causes us to be born into His Family.
1 Peter 1:22-23 (KJV) Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:  Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
Jesus prayed that the Father would “keep” (τηρέω tēréō, pronounced tay-reh’-o) those sheep saved by God’s Gospel. This word means “to post a guard over”. Jesus prayed that every believer be guarded by the Father so that they would stay the course of the faith. He wanted these born again “Sheep” to be protected from evil. Jesus guarded the disciples while He was with them on the earth. Jesus prayed:
John 17:12 (KJV) While I was with them in the world, I kept (τηρέω tēreō) them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept (φυλάσσω phylássō, foo-las’-so – to guard so as to keep safe), and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
He guarded the sheep that the Father gave Him before Calvary. Now Jesus asks that the Father guard these sheep. He also notes that one was not kept. Why was he not kept? Because Judas Iscariot was “the son of perdition”. “Perdition” is the word ἀπώλεια apṓleia, (pronounced ap-o’-li-a) which means “child of destruction”. It was prophesied that Judas Iscariot would betray Christ in:
Psalms 41:9 (KJV) Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
Psalms 109:6-8 (KJV) Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.  When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.  Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
John 13:18 (KJV) I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.
The one who was lost was Judas Iscariot, but he was lost because he was never “found”. Though he ministered alongside the other eleven Apostles and was daily with Jesus outwardly, inwardly his heart was not God’s property. Jesus kept His disciples safe from the world, but Judas never left the world in his heart. He is the picture of the outwardly converted Church member who inwardly cares nothing for the Father not His Kingdom. The unbeliever disguised as a Christian will in time show their true colors. They do not stand with the Father nor the Son but with “Satan at their right hand”, ever willing to become part of the fallen world once more.
John 17:13-16 (KJV) And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Jesus prayed in the world – but not of the world. He prayed that the Christian would have the joy of Christ in themselves. How do we receive this joy? We maintain a separateness from the world. Jesus left His disciples in the world to make a difference, but we cannot make a difference while we are worldly. Jesus prayed not that we would be taken out of the world, but that the “evil” of this world would not mark us. We are called to be light in the midst of darkness. A.W. Pink noted:
“It was, therefore, protection from “the evil” (Gr. ek tou ponerou) in the world that they needed. This phrase could mean “evil,” generally, or it could be a reference to “the Evil One”: Satan. Other occurrences of the phrase, elsewhere, encourage us to interpret it as referring to “the devil” here (cf. Matt. 6:13; 1 John 2:13-14; 3:12; 5:18- 19). However, both ideas may have been in Jesus’ mind.”
The focus of every Christian is to be in one accord with the Word of God, and in one accord with one another.
The Apostle in another place equates oneness or friendship with the world as spiritual adultery. We read:
James 4:4 (KJV) Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
The Christian is called of Christ to have a demonstrated world view that is in harmony with God and His Word, and in disharmony with the darkness. The only way a candle can be part of the darkness is to have your fire blown out. Jesus was called a “friend of sinners” by the Pharisees, as He said:
Luke 7:34 (KJV) The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
Jesus came to save the lost (Luke 19:10), but He did not come to justify lostness. Jesus came to save the sinner from sin, but He never winked at sin. Jesus befriended all who He met, but never justified the acts of darkness. What Jesus did He taught His disciples. What He did He teaches us. Jesus declared:
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Christian, you are IN the world but not OF the world. If you are a Christian you have been “translated” into God’s Kingdom:
Colossians 1:13-14 (KJV) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Jesus Prayed That His Church Be Focused
On God’s Word Not On The Devil’s World
John 17:17 (KJV) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
The word rendered “sanctify” is the Greek ἁγιάζω hagiázō, (pronounced hag-ee-ad’-zo) which means to separate, to cleanse, to consecrate or dedicate to God”. It can be rendered “to make holy”. God is holy. Jesus taught us to pray:
Matthew 6:9 Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed (ἁγιάζω hagiázō) be thy name.
God is holy, apart from sin.
We who are His are to be holy, apart from sin.
Just as Jesus was sanctified by the Father (John 10:36) we who are sons of God are sanctified by the Father. We believe the Word of God. We form our worldview based on the teachings of God’s Word. The Holy Spirit of God sets us apart (Romans 15:16) to serve God. There is no salvation without sanctification. Let me say that a few more times.
There is no SALVATION without SANCTIFICATION.
Before God set us apart from the world we were OF the world. We followed the sin pattern of the world. But once we came to Christ through the preaching of the Gospel; once we received Christ as He is (for He IS Lord and Savior) then we changed. The Scripture declares clearly:
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (KJV) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankindsodomites,  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
At the point of salvation the once born sinner becomes born again. We are moved from worldliness to godliness. We are to live our lives having and demonstrating the Mind of God.
John 17:20-21 (KJV) Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
What we are told today by the “Modern Church Growth Experts” is that in order to reach the world we must become like the world. This is not what Jesus prayed nor said. Jesus said that the way to convince the world of the authenticity of out faith is that we become like the Trinity of God. Jesus Christ walked in perfect union with the Father. He said “if you have seen ME you have seen the FATHER” (John 14:9). Jesus prayed:
That they all may be ONE; as thou, Father, art in me,
and I in thee, that THEY ALSO MAY BE ONE IN US
Jesus as God the Son is “One” or in perfect union with the Father. God the Father is “One” or in perfect union with the Son. Jesus prayed that we who are saved would be in perfect union with the Godhead. Father, Son, nor Spirit ever suffered from disharmony BUT for that one moment that Christ bore our sins on Calvary (for He said in Matthew 27:46 “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”). At all other times the Godhead acts with ONE mind to fulfill the will of God. Jesus prayed that we would be equally unified. That we would “be one”:
John 17:22 (KJV) And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
When we walk in harmony with God’s Word and with one another then the world sees the Kingdom of God in us. It is not compromise that will reach the world, but commitment to Christ. Let us live our lives so as to fulfill our Great Shepherd’s prayer.
John 17:23 (KJV) I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
May God touch your hearts with His Word!