Every night my daughter, Sarah, asks me to tuck her into bed and pray with her. She’s comforted to know that as the night comes, she’s safe and secure because I’m nearby, loving her and praying for her. We all gain a sense of security in having someone we love close by.
John 17:6-19 reminds me a bit of Sarah’s bedtime ritual. In the passage Jesus offers his disciples an understanding of his abiding presence with them. The disciples anticipate a figurative dark night coming when Jesus returns to the Father. So Jesus prays for his disciples: “Holy Father, watch over them, . . . keep them safe from the evil one. . . . Make them holy” (ceb).
Jesus has been sharing daily life with his disciples for several years. He’s their teacher and mission-giver, beloved rabbi and friend. He sends them out and lovingly receives them at the completion of their mission. So he prays for them specifically—that when he is gone, they will continue to go out in mission to the world and be protected, safe, and holy.
We teach, guide, and show our children the way to live and send them out into the world. Then we lovingly receive them when they return home to us, helping them feel safe from the darkness. When they grow up and eventually leave home, we pray that God goes with them.
The time nears for Jesus’ disciples to go into the world without him. He will no longer send them off and receive them. The same is true for disciples today. When we go out in mission to the world, Jesus’ prayer encompasses us. God goes with us, protects us, keeps us safe, and makes us holy.
Jesus, thank you for your loving prayer for us—protecting us, keeping us safe, and making us holy. Amen.
Scripture tells us that in our lives in general, and especially in our spiritual lives, we need to distinguish what is true from what is false. The psalmist admonishes us to follow the truth of God and flee wicked ideas. This week we read about Judas, who did not follow the psalmist’s advice—with disastrous results. In Acts the apostles seek to replace Judas among their number with a witness to Jesus who has not been led astray. In John’s Gospel, Jesus bemoans the loss of Judas and prays that his followers will cling to his words. The author of First John testifies that God’s words are trustworthy above all others. They bear witness to the life that comes through Christ, whose legitimacy was confirmed by his ascension into heaven.
• Read Acts 1:15-17, 21-26. When have you experienced the disruption of a meaningful relationship through death? How did you eventually recover?
• Read Psalm 1. When have you allowed the world to define you? How do you avoid that?
• Read 1 John 5:9-13. How have you come to know the testimony of God in your heart?
• Read John 17:6-19. What helps you sense God’s presence and protection?
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