90 Days with Jesus, Day 77: John 17:6-12: The Name of Jesus

John 17:6-12 (90 Days with Jesus, Day 77)

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

These verses, rightly understood, are Jesus’ prayer for the 12. This makes the application of these verses rather difficult because, rightly understood, Jesus was not specifically praying for ‘us.’ This he will do in the later verses (20-26). So we have to be careful when explaining and applying these verses 6-12. So, let’s look at this in two parts. First, let’s look and see what Jesus prayed for his disciples. After we have done so, carefully, I will try to apply these verses to us. Most likely, I will not directly apply every single aspect, but rather will focus on a couple or three of the more obvious applications.

Notice, several details of the prayer that Jesus prays for his disciples. One of Jesus’ priorities while the disciples were with him was this: He revealed God to them. This is important because we understand then that Jesus revealed something to them that no one else had ever done in such a complete way. Granted, Moses gave the Law. Granted, the Prophets spoke, ‘thus sayeth the Lord.’ But the book of Hebrews says these revelations were rather incomplete: “In the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” He has spoken to us by His Son! So to the Disciples Jesus revealed God. Of course, this has been a most important aspect of John’s Gospel since the beginning chapters. “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed His glory, and his disciples put their faith in him” (John 2:11).

Another important dimension of Jesus’ prayer is this: “For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.” Jesus has said in that he only spoke the words he heard from the Father and the words that Father told him to speak. I think of it this way: Jesus did not waste so much as a syllable. Every word he spoke was from God. Every word he spoke was meant to be heard, listened to and obeyed. Every word he spoke is the eternal Word of God that will not fall or fail. It is the Word of God that is effective to accomplish his purposes. It is the Word of God that goes forth and does not return to Him void. It is the Word of God that cuts people to the heart. His words were the Words of God that ‘faith cometh by.’ And Jesus took these words and he gave them to the disciples and the disciples took them into themselves. These words were the words that the disciples lived by more than bread. These are the words that Jesus entrusted to His disciples from the start.

Finally, take special note of the depth of Jesus’ prayer of protection over the disciples. He specifically mentions that he will be leaving and they will be staying behind. He prays that their protection while they remain behind will come from the Name that God gave Him, the Name of Jesus, the Name at which every knee will bow and every tongue confess. Evidently, there is power in the Name! Jesus said that while he was with them He did the protecting. Now he asks that God continue this protection. What is strange, though, is that when we get to the book of Acts we learn that the disciples underwent quite a bit of persecution and torment for the very Name that Jesus said would be their protection. It got so bad that the authorities even ordered the Name of Jesus banned.

Notice also, pertaining to this last point of protection in Jesus’ Name, Jesus includes a reason for such protection: That they may be One. Is it possible that when we are protected under any other banner we are not protected at all? Is it further possible that when we are protected in the Name of Jesus our full identity is disclosed. Carson comments, “…their unity is the purpose of their being kept. They cannot be one as Jesus and the Father are one unless they are kept in God’s name, i.e. in loyal allegiance to his gracious self-disclosure in the person of his Son” (The Gospel According to John, 563).

Now, as to application of these verses into our present day what shall we say? Well, three things. First, Jesus said that he revealed God to the disciples and as such I believe then that we can be confident in the disciples’ testimony about God. That is, we can develop a proper theology of God based on the things they have written. We can have confidence that they are not leading us into doctrinal error about God. We can be confident that their teaching about God, about Jesus Christ, is in keeping with the revelation that Jesus gave them. It’s not just that Jesus revealed words to them, he revealed God to them. Over and over again in John’s Gospel this point is brought out by the apostle who wrote this Gospel. He consistently teaches us about God who sent Jesus to earth. As it is, for the purposes of this short meditation, we can have confidence that the God Jesus revealed to them is the God they have revealed to us.

Second, Jesus said he gave them the words of God. Thus I believe we can trust that the teachings they have left behind are, in fact, not their own. The Gospel is no invention of man. It is no mere mythology or fantasy story. It is The Word of God. Alone of all works are the Words of Jesus the Word of God. We can have confidence that their words are God’s Words. So if this is true, and most Christians do believe it true, then the Scripture is God’s Words to us as well. We ignore these words to our own demise. We ridicule them to our own shame. They are God’s own testimony to us. We dare not ignore them for they fully and comprehensively teach us all we need to know about God, ourselves, and the world in which we live. These Words in our Bible are the Words of Jesus which are the Words of God. We might call it the Gospel according to John but in reality it is the the Gospel according to Jesus as written down by John. We can trust these words as the truth because God is not given to lies.

Third, Jesus prayed for the protection of the disciples. Still, we know they suffered. I take this to mean simply that even when the disciples suffered (through persecution) they were being protected by the powerful Name of Jesus. I also infer this to mean that somehow their oneness and unity were forged in spite of this suffering precisely because they were protected by the Name of Jesus. I might also add that their unity in Jesus’ Name is never in question. The protection of Jesus’ Name does not yield to pressure. A protection under any other name, a protection under any other entity simply would not yield the sort of unity that the Name of Jesus forges. So, with this in mind, I think the application is something like this: We can have the same confidence in the protection of Jesus too when we suffer or are persecuted for the Name of Jesus. The tie that binds us together is the Name of Jesus and I don’t think that Jesus has promised us anything less than he promised them. He wants us to recognize the basis of our oneness, what our unity transcends, and why the best protection afforded to us is only in His Name.

There is something about That Name.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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