15 I am not praying 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 have sent them into the world. 19 I sanctify myself for them, so that they also may be sanctified by the truth. — John 17:15-19
As You have Sent Me into the World, I have Sent Them
by Carey Purdom
I can remember the first time I let my son Micah spend a week with his grandparents without my husband or me. We were living in North Carolina at the time. I was pregnant with our second son and working on my master’s degree. In order to help me get through a week of finals, my in-laws had offered to let Micah travel back home to Tennessee with them and spend a week on the farm!
Of course he was delighted and happy to go, but once I got him buckled in his car seat and kissed him good-by, to my own surprise, I began to cry! “Please drive carefully; make sure he has his favorite bear at night; don’t forget to turn on the humidifier in his room because….” The thoughts of how to best care for and protect him ran through my mind. Have you ever had to entrust someone you love dearly to the care of another? Like me, I am sure you began to instruct the caregiver on all that your loved one needed in order to feel loved, protected and cared for.
Knowing He is about to leave the world and return to the Father, Jesus reveals this same kind of love, concern, and desire to protect those He loves as a mother or father would do for their own children. In verses 15-19, He asks the Father to do two things on our behalf.
First, He asks Him to protect us from the evil one. Jesus knows the evil one is on a mission to steal, kill and destroy all He is seeking to restore in and through His children (John 10:10). He knows Satan will seek to thwart God’s plan of bringing about His will on earth by leading us astray, appealing—as he did to Jesus in John 4—to our appetites, our need for approval, and our ambitions. Jesus asks the Father to protect us from the grip of the evil one, who is behind the world’s opposition to God and His plan to bring about His Kingdom. He does not however ask the Father to remove us from the world, because we are the means by which the gospel is to be spread and disciples are to be made. Rather, He asked Him to protect us from anything Satan may use to distract from seeking first His Kingdom.
The second request Jesus makes to the Father on our behalf is that He would “sanctify” us by the truth. In other words, He is asking the Father to set us apart from the ways of the world to a life that will be lived in surrendered obedience to His Word. As the Father set Jesus apart to be the One to come into the world to make Him known and provide a way for salvation, so now He asks that the Father would set apart His faithful disciples as He prepares to hand over the ministry of reconciliation to them.
This passage of scripture gives us a glimpse into how Jesus prayed offensively for the men He discipled and for the disciples who would come after them. This passage tells us that Jesus cares about our protection and our growth. It also shows us that if the Son of God proactively prayed for the men He discipled, then we too should be praying for the protection and the continued sanctification of those He entrusts to each one of us to disciple. We should not only be praying for those we are discipling, but like Jesus, we should pray for the third generation, the men and women who will be discipled by those we are currently investing in. As we go into the world engaging the whole person with whole gospel, let us learn to cultivate a consistent prayer life, petitioning the Father for the protection and sanctification of those we are reaching.
- How does it make you feel to know that Jesus prayed for your protection and sanctification? Take time to praise Him for that.
- Take time to list the men, women, or children God has put in your life to disciple. Consider the temptations they face, and ask God to specifically protect them from anything Satan may be using to lead them astray. Pray also for their continued growth and sanctification.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.