Pay Much Closer Attention

Keep Them In Your Name – John 17:11-13

Keep Them In Your Name

Were the disciples better off when Jesus was with them? Would they be worse off after Jesus was crucified?

Are we worse off because we don’t have Jesus with us as the disciples did for a time? Are we somehow less cared for by God than they were? Would it have been better for us to live in the day of the disciples and to have walked with Christ?

Followers of Christ living in the world we live in need answers to important questions like these. Thankfully these are the kinds of questions the passage before us answers.

Date: April 29, 2012
Title: Keep Them In Your Name
Scripture: John 17:11-13
Speaker: Kevin A. Pierpont, Higgins Lake Baptist Church
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Let’s continue our look at the prayer of Jesus here in John 17 looking at verses 11-13.

11 And 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, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

We’re seeing here another reason Jesus is praying for His disciples. What Jesus is praying about we’ve known is coming. Jesus has been telling the disciples and they’ve known this was coming and now in verse 11 He prays as if it’s already done. What is it?

11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.

Until now Jesus had been with them to care for them, to protect them, to provide for their needs. But now Jesus would be leaving them soon. And as He looks ahead to what will soon be His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and ascension He prays for them because He’s no longer going to be with them in the world. Jesus prays to the Father, and I am coming to you.

This is the way it has to be. This is all part of God’s plan for bringing salvation to all who believe in the Son.

But also a part of God’s plan is that the disciples, and all who would believe in Christ as a result of their ministry, would remain in the world. He says, but they are in the world. “They’re staying here”, says Jesus, “I’m leaving, they are not.”

So in light of the fact that Jesus’ disciples are to remain in the world how does Christ pray for them?

He prays, Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me. Do you see here how Jesus is directing the attention of the disciples away from Himself now and to the Father?

Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me…

These disciples of Christ, and all who are disciples of Christ, are the Father’s own possession. They have been given to the Son by the Father. Now it’s as if Christ returns them to the safe keeping of the Father. And it’s for their good, and ours, that we see the care and keeping God the Father provides.

So how does the Father do this keeping work? Note that Jesus says in verse 11, that they may be one. It’s clear here that the oneness and unity that believers enjoy is part of God’s keeping work. And how are Christ’s followers going to be one? He says, even as we are one.

Now, how are the Father and Son one? Well, we can see the unity and oneness of the Father and Son in many ways in the Scriptures.

  1. We know that Christ is the very image of the invisible God
  2. We know that Christ came to do the Father’s will
  3. We know that Christ gives the words to His disciples that the Father had given Him
  4. We know that Christ is the head the church, the church being called the body of Christ
  5. We know too that Christ is our mediator — we saw a glimpse of this last week when we were reminded that Christ intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father
  6. And we also know from here in chapter 17 that all that the Father has are the Son’s and all the Son has are the Father’s.

As we can see in these many examples, the Father and Son are one — and they are certainly one in purpose. And on that thought we’re most helped here to understand that God intends to make us one in Christ and united for His purposes.

So part of the way in which the Father does this keeping work is by blessing us with our brothers and sisters in Christ. And it is true that we are especially blessed when we are unified in Christ and together guided by God the Spirit over the purpose of the Father. So obviously, it’s important that believers seek to be one with their brothers and sisters in Christ.

That brings us back to how it is that followers of Christ are to be made one. We can see it in what Jesus prays here when He says, Holy Father, keep them in your name.

Jesus’ disciples would be one as they each as individuals put their faith in God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ — His disciples would be one as they each were seeking to glorify the name of God through their obedience to Christ.

So as Jesus prays for His disciples, that they may be one, in so doing He points to one of the ways which believers are kept, cared for, provided for and protected as we remain in this world.

Think of it. When we as God’s children unite in oneness of purpose, and that to glorify the name of God in this world, we will be greatly encouraged, greatly helped, and a multitude of blessings are ours when we are unified with God’s people over the purposes of God in this world and that is part of the keeping work of God.

You see, this is one of the ways in which God intends to encourage us, equip us and prepare us for faithful service as we live in the midst of a world that’s lost and on edge without Christ.

So Jesus’ prayer is that His Disciples be kept in God’s name and each be brought together in the body of Christ, the church, and be made one, unified in purpose, and all for the glory of God’s name. And that is still the Lord’s desire for His disciples today.

Our unity in the name of God, just as God the Father and Son are one, makes us stronger and glorifies God in this world that is so individualistic and disjointed. Without Christ there is no unity. In Christ there is oneness in God’s name as we each believe in God’s name, as we each honor God’s name, as we each take the name of God into this world by our obedience to God’s Word.

So you disciples of Christ who are living in the world now are not worse off than the disciples were because you aren’t privileged as they were to walk with Christ. No, just as they were kept by Christ when He was with them and just as they are kept by God in His absence and so are you if you are God’s child. The same God who keeps the disciples keeps you if you are His.

Did Christ keep the disciples while He was with them? Did He care for them and provide for them and instruct them and guide them? Yes He did.

But note how Christ says that while He was with the disciples He has kept them in God’s name. In all His ministry on earth and in all His keeping of them He was always serving the Father.

So we are not worse off than the disciples because they had Christ with them for a time and we do not. Because all along Jesus was serving the Father. In fact Jesus graciously gave the Disciples and us great confidence in God’s protection of and provision for all His own when He prayed this prayer in their midst.

Look at verse 13 again where Jesus says,

13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

Jesus says, these things I speak in the world. Did Jesus need to pray these things out loud to be heard and answered by the Father? No He did not. But now his purpose for praying in the presence of His disciples is made clear. It’s for their benefit and ours that they hear Him pray this

Why? Because we humans are fickle creatures. Give us something to hang on to and we’ll have hope — give us a reason to believe and we’ll have faith.

And how gracious of Christ to give them and us these words. This must have given a measure of peace and comfort to the disciples as they were anticipating Jesus leaving them soon. He’d been telling them and preparing them for just that time.

So it’s just as we heard in verse 12. These disciples had been put into the hands of Christ by God the Father and He had kept them in the Father’s name. And now He’s going to be leaving them, so He turns their care back over to the Father and there they will be kept safely in the Father’s hands. In the hands of Christ they were in no danger — nor will they be in danger in the Father’s hands.

Are you God’s child? If you are then you too are kept by God. Your salvation is secured by the sacrifice of Christ and you are kept safely for all eternity in the hands of God.

And do you see to what end Jesus gives them this encouragement in prayer and this assurance of being kept by the father?

It is that His joy would be their joy. See it in verse 13?

…that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

Why did the disciples need His joy fulfilled in themselves? Because they were prone to fear and doubt — they were prone to living “glass half empty”. And so are we. We need the joy of Christ fulfilled in us — because we too are prone to fear and doubt.

But not Christ. Remember this is a prayer of victory. Jesus looks ahead and sees the cross but He does not see it as defeat. No, Jesus sees the cross as victory over sin and hell and death for all who believe in Him.

As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

To all who looked on, the cross was a bad thing, but not to Christ.

No, to Christ it was for the joy of all who trust in Him that He willingly went to the cross and suffered greatly and died.

And it was for the joy of all who believe in Him that He rose from the dead on the third day.

And it was for the joy of all who believe in Him that He ascended to heaven and sent the Helper, the Holy Spirit in His place, to live in, and comfort, and strengthen all whom the Father had given Him.

It was for our joy that Jesus obeyed the Father. And it is for our joy that we who believe in the Son are kept by the Father.

We need the joy of Christ don’t we?

It’s a difficult world we live in and there is much that would steal our joy if we didn’t have the joy of Christ fulfilled in us as we are made one together in God’s name with our brothers and sisters in Christ as we each daily trust in and depend upon God’s Name.

And this is our confidence, that we are kept by the same God that keeps the Disciples for whom Jesus prayed. We are kept by the same God who sent His Son to take our place being punished for no sins of His own but for ours.

That’s the God who keeps you if you have trusted in His Son.

Photo by: lrargerich (Creative Commons)