Sent Into the World

“As You sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.  And for their sake I consecrate Myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth” (Jn 17:18-19).

Jesus continues His prayer to the Father for the future welfare of His disciples.  He reveals here a “sending out” of His followers that is still to come following His death and resurrection.  And the mission they will be sent on is a continuation of the mission Christ has been on; a mission initiated by the Father when He sent Jesus into the world.  “As You have sent Me, I am sending them” (vs 18).

I like the phrase “sent into the world”.  Our relationship with the world has been a common theme in Jesus’s prayer.  As you recall, the disciples were given to Christ “out of the world” (vs 6).  They no longer “belong to the world” (vs 14, 16).  They remain “in the world” (vs 11), and are not immediately “taken out of the world” (vs 15).  And they remain here with a purpose, “sent into the world” (vs 18).  The disciples were not left behind with no purpose, but remain “in the world” as Christ’s messengers.

Just as Christ was “set apart” for His ultimate mission, so the disciples are “sanctified” for their mission.  “I consecrate Myself” (vs 19) can be thought of as Christ saying, “I offer Myself as the sacrifice.”  He did this for us (“for their sake”).  Christ consecrated Himself, was set apart, to be the sacrifice for us.  He died in our place, our substitute, for our sins and the sins of the world.

We have been “set apart” to continue Christ’s mission by proclaiming Christ’s message.  In this world, we are Christ’s physical presence.  We are His body.  And we continue His mission when we share this truth that life – abundant, true, and eternal life – is found only in the name of Jesus Christ.

To repeat from last time, we are sanctified by God’s truth.  We are set apart in God’s truth.  We are standing on a firm foundation of God’s truth.  Be confident.  Your faith is in the true God and His true Son, Jesus Christ.  And no one can take that away.

Set Apart by the Truth

“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (Jn 17:17).

If you have embraced the gospel message of Jesus Christ, then here are some things that you believe to be true.  You believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  You believe that Jesus came to the earth as God in the flesh.  You believe that Jesus died on a cross as a substitute for us, paying the penalty for our sin through His death.  You believe that Jesus was buried and rose again completing the sacrifice on our behalf.  You believe that your sins are forgiven.

You don’t believe these things in some philosophical way that only applies to you like it is your own “truth”.  These are not just ideas that are “true” for you and your circle of friends.  No, you and I believe that the paragraph above are actual facts.  We believe they are true in the truest sense.  We believe they are true for all people, in all places.

Christianity makes a bold claim that its tenets of faith are true.  Not useful, not appealing, not positive thinking, not a coping mechanism, not just attractive thought, not unique to our own minds.

And the person of Christianity, Jesus Christ, has proclaimed Himself to be “the truth”.  Jesus is truth personified.  “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me’ ” (Jn 14:6).  And from earlier in John’s gospel, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).  Jesus was filled to overflowing with grace and truth.

We needed grace.  We were lost without any hope of saving ourselves.  We were slaves to sin, unable to earn our way back to God.  Christ purchased our freedom as a pure gift; a pure gift of His grace.  He gave us a new and abundant and eternal life with nothing required from us in return.  By grace, you have been rescued (Eph 2:8).

We also needed truth.  For our Christian faith to produce the promised life it must be true.  For Christ’s death to have the result of new life for us, it has to have happened.  It can’t just be in our imagination.  Christ died or He did not.  If He did not, then we are foolish to follow.  But we believe it did happen.  We believe all that Jesus said and did is true.  Our faith is based on truth, not fantasy.  “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (II Pet 1:16).

We are sanctified by God’s truth.  We are set apart in God’s truth.  We are standing on a firm foundation of God’s truth.  Be confident.  Your faith is in the true God and His true Son, Jesus Christ.  And no one can take that away.

Safe from the Evil One

Jesus prayed … “I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (Jn 17:14-16).

“The world has hated them” is a theme Jesus visited previously in these chapters (see Hated by the World).  The world system and its leader, Satan himself, is at war with the body of Christ.  We do not fit in with this world system because we are “not of the world”.

It would seem to me a good idea to be removed from this battle; to be taken out of the world as it were.  But Christ specifically asks the Father to NOT remove us from the world.  Jesus has a role for us to play here.  We are His physical representation on the earth.  We are the body of Christ in this time and place.

With this war mentality as a backdrop, what does Jesus request from the Father to sustain us in the battle?  Rather than remove us from the conflict, Jesus prays that the Father would protect us from the enemy.  I believe Christ’s prayer is aimed at both flanks of the enemy’s attack; the enemy within and the enemy without.

The “enemy within” is described in the New Testament as the flesh; the part of us that seeks to draw us back to the world’s ways.  The flesh is at war with the new you.  The flesh is at war with your new self.  The flesh is at war with your new nature.  And the flesh is at war with your new Holy Spirit living inside.  “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another” (Gal 5:17).]

But God has given us an answer to the flesh’s pull.  He has given us His Spirit.  “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal 5:16).  When “we walk by the Spirit”, we are following the Spirit’s path for us.  We are leaning into “How would the Spirit inside have us respond to this person or this situation?  What would the love of Jesus flowing out of me look like here?”  We would be answering these and a thousand similar questions in our minds and acting according to the Spirit’s leading.  And God would be producing the fruit of His Spirit in us.

Turning to the “enemy without”, we see Satan and the world system seeking our destruction.  Again, God has generously given us a defense.  “Take up the shield of faith which with you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one” (Eph 6:16).  Have you been feeling Satan’s flaming missiles?  I know I have.

Our faith is our shield.  Our faith is our power to overcome the evil one.  Our faith believes the truth about God and His purposes in the world and in our lives.  Our faith believes that God is a good Father when the world appears to be outside His control.  Our faith believes we are forgiven, even when Satan exposes our sinful thoughts and actions.  Our faith believes we have a new heart and new nature that is warm toward God.  Our faith believes that God loves us unconditionally.  Our faith “believes” in the face of Satan’s accusations and temptations.

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them [every evil spirit]; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (I Jn 4:4).  “And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith” (I Jn 5:4).  God, through giving us His Spirit and the gift of faith, is answering Jesus’ prayer to “keep us from the evil one”.