Jesus prays for our spiritual immunity and our joy
13 And now come I to You; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves.John 17:13-16
14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
How do you clean your bathtub? Do you lean over the side and scrub, or do you get all the way in? I have done both, and I must admit that I can be far more effective at cleaning the tub when I work from the inside. Getting inside the tub makes me wet, but it doesn’t make me dirty.
A similar analogy holds true in our responsibility as ambassadors for Christ. Granted, it is not our job to clean up the world, only to spread the good news of salvation. We are called to be salt and light in the midst of a world that is in a state of decay and darkness. Although it is possible to work for Jesus from the sidelines, He commands us to go out into the world with the gospel.
And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.Mark 16:15
True, we can serve our Lord from the sidelines, but we can do it much more effectively from within. Many a fish has been caught from the shore, but how many more await those who are willing to go out in the boat? And we don’t have to get dirty, but we may have to get wet.
Jesus Prays for Our Spiritual Immunity
The world is a dangerous place. Our first responders and military know that better than anyone. But even more dangerous than threats such as drug cartels and terrorists is the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of darkness. He walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. But he is a defeated foe. His leash is long, but he is leashed nonetheless. His power is great, but it is limited. He is deceitful, but he alone is deceived if he thinks that he has a chance of winning this war. Why? Because Jesus, the Son of God, our great High Priest, is praying for us, protecting us, strengthening us. Let’s look again at our text:
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them that You have given me; for they are Yours. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe on Me through their word.John 17:9, 20
And what specifically is His request?
I pray not that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil.John 17:15
You see? Jesus prays for our protection. The Father hears that prayer and sends the Spirit to seal us. So we have a three-fold seal of protection upon us. There is no way the world or the devil can harm us. Oh, they can torture us, they can taunt us, they can take away our possessions, our freedom, they can even take away our lives. But they cannot take our joy, our peace, our salvation, our love, our hope, our souls, or our eternity in heaven. The things they can take away, we are eventually going to lose anyhow. But the things they cannot touch are ours forever.
That is what I mean by spiritual immunity. We are immune from the curse of sin; we are immune from the penalty of sin; we are immune from the effects of sin. All this is possible because we are one in Christ—alive in Him.
No needles necessary!
Jesus Prays for Our Joy
In our text, Jesus also prays for our joy. “And now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves” (v. 13). The “these things” to which Jesus refers is all that He has said to the disciples in the chapters leading up to this one, as He prepared them for what was about to happen. He told them in advance that He would be taken and crucified, that they would be scattered, that Peter would deny Him, that they would be persecuted. He said all this, and more, so that they would understand when it happened that it was no accident, that Jesus knew all along, and they would be assured of His love in the midst of their failure. He also told them that He would send the Holy Spirit to dwell inside of them, and that they would receive power to do greater works than they had seen Him do—not greater in significance, but greater in scope, for their works would spread far beyond the borders of Palestine.
The Christian life is full of ups and downs. My own life has had its ups and downs in recent days and weeks. I’m so glad that our joy is not dependent upon circumstances or emotions. We can’t stay up all the time. Nature teaches us that what goes up must eventually come down. Happiness is balanced with grief. But joy is a constant—or it can be—in Christ.
These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.John 15:11
“These things have I spoken unto you…” What things? Jesus had just been teaching the parable of the vine. “I am the vine,” He said, “and you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” He was teaching them the secret of abiding joy—abiding in Him.
How does a branch abide in the vine? Does it hang on for dear life? Does it struggle to keep from falling off? No. Any such effort would constrict the flow of nutrients from the vine to the branch. So the branch simply rests in the vine. That is what Jesus wants you and me to do in Him. And He promises that when we abide in Him, when we rest in Him, our joy will be full. Happiness comes and goes, but joy remains.
In closing, I would like to share a psalm that has become very special to me. In fact, I’ve recently decided to commit it to memory. This psalm of David illustrates the truths of today’s devotion more eloquently than I could ever hope to do myself. As you read it, see how David waited on (rested in) the Lord, how he ministered to the Lord in midst of the world, how the Lord protected him from the dangers there, and gave him joy in the process.
I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD His trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Many, O LORD my God, are Thy wonderful works which Thou hast done, and Thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto Thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.
Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; mine ears hast Thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do Thy will, O my God: yea, Thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, Thou knowest. I have not hid Thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation: I have not concealed Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth from the great congregation.
Withhold not Thou Thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha. Let all those that seek Thee rejoice and be glad in Thee: let such as love Thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified. But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: Thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.Psalm 40
Your call to action is a call to rest. Rest in the Lord, knowing that although you are in the world, you are not of the world. You are immune from the power of sin. And your joy is in the One who keeps you.
Next week we will conclude our study of the real Lord’s prayer.