9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
This morning finds me in an emotional storm. I am surrounded by rich blessings quite undeserved and at the same time there is a deep longing for something that is unfulfilled. There is a childlike sadness as if I were the victim of a bully. There is anger and indignation for the injustices I can’t resolve. These are just a few of the snowflakes I have been able to catch on my tongue but there is a blizzard of unsorted emotions waiting to be shoveled off my path.
Jesus never expected the world to be an agreeable place for believers. We are not of this world. Literally the Greek in verse 16 is ek tou kosmou ouk which reads “of the world, not!” It means that believers have another point of origin and another ultimate destination. Our birth into this world was physical but our new birth makes us citizens of heaven and aliens here.
Our hope for the New Year is that we might have some rest from moral decline, but Jesus does not expect any great moral resurgence. Jesus did not pray for the destruction of “the evil” but that we might be kept from it. The word poneros means “that which is hurtful” and the definite article “the” makes it personal. Jesus prayed that believers would be protected from the one who causes hurt. We should not be surprised when there is hurt all around us.
2 Tim 3:13
13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
Jesus prayed for our “sanctification” which in the Greek hagiazo means “to make holy.” This is done through the Word of truth. The more a believer associates with the Bible the less he will be welcomed in the world. We can expect the world to be a hostile place and increasingly so if we draw closer to the Lord. However, we will not be made safer by abandoning God and embracing the world. The world will not return our embrace but knows, better than we, that we are aliens. The word “keep” in verse 15 indicates a garrison of soldiers posted to keep watch. That is comforting!
If you are waiting at the gate for the departure of your plane, you will watch and listen for announcements and signals that you need to board. I have consistently watched men and women clog the entry with documents in hand. I have never seen them wait their turn, but they stand in anxious anticipation until their row is called. We too need to be ready to board.
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Dear Lord, I can sense a stirring at the gate of departure. As your coming draws nearer let me draw closer to you. AMEN
The Backside of the Pulpit