Jesus has taught the apostles well. He has passed on the words God gave Him (vv. 8, 14). The apostles therefore know that Jesus has come from the Father (v. 8) and they are hated by the world because they are no longer part of the mass of humanity in rebellion against God (v. 14).
Here is the central conviction of all true followers of Jesus: that He is God, the only Son who is at the Father’s side (John 1:18); He is ″God of God, Light of Light, and very God of very God″ (Nicene Creed). Jesus prays for protection for the apostles (v. 11), first from the world (v. 14), and from the evil one (v. 15).
As with any flock, unity is vital (v. 11). That is why Jesus prayed. We need a prayer like this, so that we can have joy and unity in the face of the opposition coming from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Jesus also prays that the apostles would remain holy and not become compromised (vv. 17-19). It is through His being set apart that we are set apart to be God’s special people (v. 19).
This prayer shows us what Jesus yearns for in His people. He prays that we will be joyous and united; that we will be protected against Satan and his lies (John 8:44), and that we would live transformed lives, uncompromised by the world.
″Sanctify″ means to separate or make holy. Believers in the New Testament are called holy ones or saints (Acts 9:32; Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:1; Jude 1:3). The noun ″saint″ is never used in the singular. We are all saints together in Christ; this is not a title reserved for a privileged few, but for all followers of Jesus.
French reformer John Calvin writes ″No man . . . is a believer who is not also a saint; . . . no man is a saint who is not a believer.″13 Holiness of life, overflowing joy, and the enjoyment of the unity of believers are all fortifications against the enemy.
13 John Calvin, New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians (Eerdmans, 1996), 196.
Jesus prayed this prayer for the apostles. Personalise the prayer and pray this prayer for yourself. How will God’s answering of this prayer be evident in your life?