Gospel: John 17:11b-19
Epistle: 1 John 5:9-15 [1 John 4:13-21]
Lesson: Acts 1:12-26
Psalm: Psalm 1 [Psalm 47]
CLB Commentary on the Gospel Text by Rev. David Rinden
(originally published in 2012)
The Easter cycle for another year is nearly over. We have come to the seventh and last Sunday of Easter. What is the message we want to bring? The Gospel text brings much comfort and encouragement.
We call the prayer that Jesus gave to his disciples “The Lord’s Prayer.” However, this prayer in John 17 seems more appropriately called by this name.
This chapter forms part of what is sometimes called “The Upper Room Discourse” of Jesus. This section begins with John 13 where John describes for us the demonstration of Jesus’ love for his disciples and Jesus’ desire that his followers also love as he did. In chapters 14-16 Jesus gives comfort and encouragement to his disciples who soon will no longer enjoy his physical presence, but will have the Holy Spirit whose presence will be with them and in them.
John 17 has been called the holy of holies of the New Testament. Here we see Jesus in prayer for himself, for his disciples, and for all believers. We see clearly his heart for the church. Today’s text centers on Jesus’ prayer for his own (John 17:11b-19).
Observe what Jesus prays for in this text:
- That they be kept from evil. It is a prayer for their protection. “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one” (vv11b- 12, 15). Disciples of Christ must need protection or Jesus would not have prayed in this manner. The Scriptures in Ephesians 6 speaks about the evil Jesus’ followers are up against. Just as Satan seduced Eve, so he seeks to lead astray any disciple of Christ. He prayed this prayer prior to the cross. He knew the disciples would be sorely tempted, Peter even to deny his Lord; and Judas to betray.
- That they might have the full measure of Jesus’ joy within them. This joy comes from hearing the Bridegroom’s voice (John 3:29); from coming to him in prayer (John 16:24); and from being like-minded and having fellowship with God’s people (Philippians 2:2; 1 John 1:4; 2 John 12).
- That they might be sanctified through the Word. Jesus states that he sanctifies himself (that is consecrates; sets himself apart) in order that his disciples will be sanctified as they are sent by God into the world. He has no interest in having his disciples comfortable. He wants them sanctified. And as they are sanctified, Jesus’ disciples will find protection and strength through the eternal Word of God (vv14, 17-19). Why the Word? It is truth!
So proclaim the Good News. This Word declares forgiveness of sin. The Holy Spirit uses these words to show us that God is with us; that he will protect us from the evil one. When Satan hears the Word of God, he trembles and must flee (Matthew 4; Luke 4; James 4:7-8).