13 “But now I am coming to you, and I am saying these things in the world, so that they may be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. The world hated them, because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I am not asking that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the Evil One. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I also sent them into the world. 19 I sanctify myself for them, so they also may be sanctified by the truth. 20 “I am praying not only for them, but also for those who believe in me through their message. 21 May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be one in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. 22 I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one: 23 I in them, and you in me. May they become completely one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am so that they may see my glory—the glory you gave me because you loved me before the world’s foundation. 25 Righteous Father, the world did not know you, but I knew you, and these men knew that you sent me. 26 I made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love you have for me may be in them and that I may be in them.”
In this section of God’s Word, Jesus continues his prayer to his heavenly Father before he and his disciples depart for the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus already knew the outcome of the time of suffering he was about to endure. He would endure bitter anguish and death unlike anyone has ever or will ever endure. But he also knew that his mission would be successful. He would rise from the dead and return triumphant to his heavenly Father. This was God’s plan from eternity. Everything would happen just as God decided. But there were some difficult days ahead for Jesus’ followers. Jesus would soon be leaving this world to return to his heavenly Father. But his disciples would remain in a world where many people would hate them just as they hated Jesus. His disciples needed some real encouragement. That is what Jesus prayed for in this final portion of his prayer.
Please notice that Jesus is also praying for you. In verse 20 he said that he prayed “For those who believe in me through their message.” This prayer extends to all Jesus’ followers for all time. What does Jesus ask for as he prays for you? First he wants you to be filed with joy. He has given you his Word to show you that he endured the cross and the grave for you. Because of Jesus, you aren’t of this world just as Jesus is not of this world. No matter what your sins are, Jesus gave his life to forgive them. Be filled with joy knowing that this world is only your temporary dwelling place. Heaven is your home, where you will be with Jesus forever.
Why doesn’t Jesus take us to heaven now? We’ve probably all asked that question many times in our lives. Especially in difficult times, we wish we could just leave the troubles of this world behind and go to our eternal home now. But now is not the time. We still have work to do. Jesus is sending us into the world, just as he sent his disciples into the world. Jesus sent a messenger into our lives to bring us the good news of the Gospel. He wants us to now pass on that saving good news. For that work, we are going to need some real protection. Satan will try everything he can to lead us astray. He will accuse us of our sins. He will show us how guilty we are and how we deserve God’s judgement. He will try to tell us that God could never love us after everything we’ve done. On other occasions he will try a different approach. He will tell us that our sins aren’t that bad. Just keep doing whatever you want. Surely God won’t be mad at you after all the good things you’ve done.
Jesus prayed that his heavenly Father would protect us from the devil. He prayed that God would, “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth.” (Verse 17) The word “sanctify” means to “make holy.” God’s Word protects us from the devil through the Law by telling us not to believe the devil’s lies. Our sins do condemn us before God. We aren’t good enough for salvation by our works. But then he also protects us through the Gospel. He tells us again not to believe the devil’s lies. Your Lord loves you despite your sins. Jesus took away your guilt so that you are now made holy in God’s eyes. God’s Word destroys protects you from the devil by making you holy and keeping you holy through faith in Jesus Christ.
Finally our Lord wants us to be one with him. Just imagine that. The Son of God wants to be united with sinful human beings like us. He wants us to see his eternal glory and share in that glory with him in heaven. Such unity is not achieved by the ecumenical efforts of some church bodies today. We don’t become united by saying we’re all one no matter what we believe. We’re not united by saying all religions worship the same God or that God will ultimately take everyone to heaven. Remember the words of Jesus in John 14:6. “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.” We are united with God only through faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior. Don’t look for any other way to be united with God. Stand firm in Christ alone. Trust in the gracious promises he has given you in his Word. Believe that no one comes to eternal life in heaven except through him. Then you will be filled with joy that cannot be taken from you. Then you will be ready for the day when your Lord will take you out of this world to your true home in heaven.
1 – How does our Lord protect us from the attacks of the devil?
He protects us through his Word. The Word of God defeats the devil’s accusations by assuring us that our sins are fully forgiven in Jesus Christ. The devil has no more power to accuse us. When he tries to weigh us down with the guilt of our sins, we can answer with the good news of the Gospel, which assures us of our salvation in Christ alone.
2 – What important truths does Jesus teach us about his Word in verse 17?
Jesus said “Your Word is truth.” The Holy Scriptures are completely without error. God does not lie. Every word he speaks to us is the truth. We can trust that all his promises for us never change. His Word is also powerful. We are sanctified “made holy” through the Holy Scriptures. The Gospel in Word and Sacrament is the means our Lord chooses to bring us to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
3 – What special assurance does verse 24 bring to you?
Jesus wants you to be with him and to see him in his heavenly glory. Jesus does more than just wish for this. Jesus did everything to accomplish his goal through his life, death, and resurrection. Trust in him as your Savior and you will one day go to be with him and share in his glory.
4 – What strong promises about his work did Jesus make at the conclusion of his prayer?
Jesus made his heavenly Father known during his time on earth. He continues to make God known to us as he sends his Word out into the world. Through Jesus Christ, the love of God remains in us.
If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to