The Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

John 17:11-19

He Guards and He Keeps

For about three years now, Jesus has walked and talked, lived and prayed for these eleven men.  He has poured his heart into them, forgiven their sins, and lovingly corrected their flaws.  They so often misunderstood even his most basic teachings, and yet Jesus was patient and kind with them.  In short, Jesus kept them and guarded them as little children, as a mother nursing her young (1 Thessalonians 2:7).

And just like a mother who is sending her young one out into the world, Jesus is understandably concerned for their safety and well-being.  Jesus prays, “I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.  Holy Father, keep them in your name.”  Jesus has done what he was supposed to do.  He gave them the Father’s word, he lost none except the one who was lost, and he has given unto these men his own joy through the word he has spoken to them.  But he also knows that the world hates them and will always hate them, and that this is the very world into which he is sending them, and he won’t be there to guard and keep them any longer.  And so he says, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”  They cannot be taken out of the world, for these are the very foundation of the Church.  But he can pray for their continued protection by the very One who gave them to Jesus in the first place.

And so Jesus further asks the Father to “sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”  The best way to guard and keep these men now that Jesus will leave them is to set them apart, consecrate them, in the truth of God’s word, the very word Jesus had given them.  And please note, the Scripture does not say, “your word is true,” an adjective expressing the idea that God’s word must conform to some outward standard of truth in order to be judged true; no, “[God’s] word is truth,” a noun indicating that God’s word is the truth by which all other things (ideas, words, actions, in short, everything else) are judged to be true.  God’s word is truth itself, the standard by which all other things are judged.  It is this that sanctifies us as the Holy Spirit applies it to our lives.  And it is this word that we must share with others.  And so that this word should sanctify us, and so that we may go out into the world with the Spirit’s power, Jesus consecrated himself to the task of suffering which was before him and bore the cross.  It is the word that sanctifies us for ministry, that makes us fit to go out and bear the hostility of this unfriendly world.  His word is truth; may we make it our food and drink.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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