In the Garden, approaching his final hours, Jesus prayed for his disciples. They were about to be faced with a world without his protective presence. Since he knew his time on earth was short, I would imagine he prayed for what was absolutely most important to him, wouldn’t you? Here’s what he said to the Father:
“But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 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 pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:13-17, NIV)
I think it’s significant that Jesus prayed for his disciples; after all they were his best friends, the guys into whom he had poured his life and mission. But, when Jesus prayed for his followers, what he said is revealing (and surprising!). In verse 20 he made it clear that he prayed not only for the disciples who were with him in the garden, but for you as well. He said, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.”
Remember the Alliteration
These few verses of Jesus’ prayer echo down the corridors of history to reveal His position, His purpose, His prediction of persecution, His protection, and His process. “I come to you”: Jesus is petitioning the Father, and places himself under the Father’s authority. Jesus prayed often (Mark and Luke both remark upon this habit more than once), and here in his last hours, he prayed for all of us who would someday believe in Him.
He is on God’s mission, and he makes it clear that God is in control. He acknowledges the Father’s ability to take his disciples out of the world, or to protect them in it. And he asks his Abba to complete his mission in ALL of his followers. And, what’s the purpose of that mission? “I speak these things in the world that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” Wow! Jesus came to provide JOY!? How many joyful people do you know? His stated purpose was to share his own joy and have it fulfilled in his followers.
What Did Jesus Want For Us?
In John 15:11 he said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” If you are one of his followers, that applies to you. Are you joyful? Is joy being fulfilled in you and because of you? Isn’t it cool that He prays for our joy? Of all of the characteristics of eternal life, this is my favorite. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit; it is a characteristic of the Kingdom of Heaven; it’s the natural result of the resurrection! It’s the reason Jesus came to earth, and it is essentially why we are here.
Stop for a moment and just choose to feel joyful no matter what your circumstances. It may seem almost impossible, but it is a choice available to us regardless of what is going on around us. The joy Jesus refers to is not dependent upon comfort or affluence, or having perfect circumstances. Perhaps that is why He also prayed over believers who will experience persecution both from the world and from the evil one. “The world has hated them because they are not of the world” is both an acknowledgement of what his disciples experienced and a prophecy about what is happening today.
Set Apart in Prayer
If you experience opposition as a Christian, take heart! It means you are not of the world, and that Jesus held you in his heart that stressful night in Gethsemane. Jesus prayed protection over you, and asked his Father to protect all of His children from the evil one. No matter how dark our circumstances, Jesus’ prayer seems to indicate that there is hope beyond the difficulty. Has life got you down? Ever feel discouraged or alone? Jesus has been there, and he knows not only how you feel, but what you need.
Jesus asked the Father to reserve us to himself, and told us how that happens. “Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth.” Sanctified means “set apart”. Are you? Is your life entwined with things of the Spirit or things of the world? Do you read social media or watch TV more than you read God’s word?
Connect the dots here. Jesus says he spoke these things “that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. But I have given them Your word…” The process for sanctification comes from the Word of God, and so does Joy! Has life got you down? The more time you spend with God’s Word, the greater both your sanctification and your joy will be. Dive into the deep waters of Jesus’ prayer for you and you will find them both.
He Prayed for US
Agonizing in the Garden, facing his greatest trial, Jesus knelt there in the night and prayed hard, for awhile... Knowing what he had to face and what he had to do, Jesus took some time to intercede for me and YOU. He prayed for our protection from what Satan might employ; Then asked the Lord to sanctify us, and to give us joy. He prayed for us as he prepared for Calvary's rugged slope, Knowing that his work would bring us joy and give us hope! If life has brought you trials, and your heart has been dismayed, Embrace the joy that Jesus promised to us when he prayed. His mission bought salvation, then, for every girl and boy-- But Jesus said he REALLY came to bring his children joy!
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