“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. 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. But now I am coming to You, and these things I speak in the world that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves” (Jn 17:11-13).
As we continue in Jesus’ John 17 prayer, we find Jesus preparing to leave this world. While Jesus was in the world, He “guarded” the disciples so that none were lost (with the exception of Judas, whose chose his own path of destruction). In this prayer, Jesus now transfers His guardianship to the Father. He asks the Father to “keep them in Your name.” That is, to keep them with God’s power.
Throughout the Old Testament, the name of God is equated with the power of God. “May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!” (Ps 20:1). “Through Your name we will trample down those who rise up against us” (Ps 44:5). “Save me, O God, by Your name, and vindicate me by Your power” (Ps 54:1). “Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, that He might make His power known” (Ps 106:8). “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Ps 124:8). And one of my favorites, “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe” (Pr 18:10).
Jesus also prays that “they may be one”. We will see this specific request of Jesus a few times in His John chapter 17 prayer. Our unity as believers is of great importance to the Savior. I believe that is why the apostles emphasize the unity of the body in their letters to the churches. “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3).
This call for unity is very serious. Division is deadly to the body of Christ. Too often, we separate over points of theology or over what should be emphasized in a church’s mission or which personalities to line up behind. But we all need, with our various gifts and personalities, to come under the authority of Christ’s prayer; His prayer that we would be one. Their is no greater aspiration in the church. Our unity is a direct demonstration of our “loving one another”.
Earlier in the evening, Jesus said to His disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (Jn 15:11). Here in verse 13, Jesus prays to the Father requesting that their experience of His joy would indeed come to pass. Christ’s joy in you is Christ’s promise to you and Christ’s prayer for you. May you dwell in the answer to this prayer, and feel the overwhelming warmth of Christ’s joy in you.