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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

JESUS' PRAYER OF INTERCESSION, PART 3

John 17:11-16 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name: those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Having finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do (Prev. Vs. 4), Jesus continues His prayer by telling God that now I am no more in the world. Only hours from His death, Jesus would soon leave the struggles and conflicts of life behind, and return to God in heaven, and there to live eternally. However, these are in the world, that is, His apostles are to remain in the world to carry on, and complete the cause for which Jesus died; that is, to reconciled mankind with God through His atoning death on the cross of Calvary. It was God Who providentially selected the apostles and gave them to Jesus to serve Him during His earthly mission. Therefore, on their behalf, Jesus petitions His Heavenly Father to keep the apostles given to Him - to defend and protect them from the evil influences of the world, and to give them spiritual guidance that they may effectively, and in unity, carry out His will as they continue to serve Him after His departure.

By setting a righteous example, and by teaching them the doctrinal message designed by God, Jesus had influenced the apostles, during His sojourn on earth, in a manner that they became, and remained faithful to the will of God. Not one apostle was lost to the Satan-inspired ways of the world, except the son of perdition. The person known by this descriptive title possessed the nature and character of a hopelessly lost soul. Perdition, itself, refers to the state of wickedness, willfully entered into by men and women of the world, which takes control of their life and eventually leads them to eternal destruction. Used here, the epithet applies to one of the apostles that were originally chosen, namely Judas Iscariot, who allowed Satan to enter and control his life, leading him to betray Jesus Christ to the Jewish leaders, which brought about His death by crucifixion. The betrayal of a once trusted apostle was prophetically foretold in a number of Old Testament scriptures, two of which are found in Psalms 41:9 and 109:6-19. Other than this one exception, the faith of the eleven other apostles remained steadfast.

Realizing, by His death, He would be leaving His apostles, Jesus tells His Heavenly Father that now come I to Thee. Just as Jesus, while hanging on the cross of Calvary, committed His mother, Mary, to the care of John (John 19:25-27), so it seems here that Jesus is committing His apostles to the omniscient counsel and protective care of God, His Father. Although death is most often accompanied with suffering, pain, and anguish, but believing, obedient Christians, find comfort in the fact that they will be coming to God just as Jesus did on this occasion. Continuing in verse 13, it is apparent that the interceding prayer of Jesus was spoken, and heard, by His apostles. And noting the tender love and compassion He had for them, and His concern for them after He departed, brought comfort and joy to these eleven chosen disciples of Christ.

The apostles removed themselves from the sinfulness of the world by taking on the nature of Jesus. Therefore, the world hated them just as it hated Jesus. His prayer to God for His apostles was, not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. In order to preach God's message of eternal salvation through Jesus Christ to sinners of the world, it was necessary for His apostles to remain among all erring disbelievers. Jesus' prayer to God, on their behalf, was that He would keep them from the power of Satan, the evil one. Christians, take heart. We cannot teach God's will to sinners unless we are in their midst, but we know that Jesus gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father (Gal. 1:4).