Protection for His Followers: John 17:1-26

Focus Passage: John 17:1-26 (CEV)

After Jesus had finished speaking to his disciples, he looked up toward heaven and prayed:

Father, the time has come for you to bring glory to your Son, in order that he may bring glory to you. And you gave him power over all people, so that he would give eternal life to everyone you give him. Eternal life is to know you, the only true God, and to know Jesus Christ, the one you sent. I have brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you gave me to do. Now, Father, give me back the glory that I had with you before the world was created.

You have given me some followers from this world, and I have shown them what you are like. They were yours, but you gave them to me, and they have obeyed you. They know that you gave me everything I have. I told my followers what you told me, and they accepted it. They know that I came from you, and they believe that you are the one who sent me. I am praying for them, but not for those who belong to this world. My followers belong to you, and I am praying for them. 10 All that I have is yours, and all that you have is mine, and they will bring glory to me.

11 Holy Father, I am no longer in the world. I am coming to you, but my followers are still in the world. So keep them safe by the power of the name that you have given me. Then they will be one with each other, just as you and I are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them safe by the power you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost, except the one who had to be lost. This happened so that what the Scriptures say would come true.

13 I am on my way to you. But I say these things while I am still in the world, so that my followers will have the same complete joy that I do. 14 I have told them your message. But the people of this world hate them, because they don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t.

15 Father, I don’t ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They don’t belong to this world, and neither do I. 17 Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours. 18 I am sending them into the world, just as you sent me. 19 I have given myself completely for their sake, so that they may belong completely to the truth.

20 I am not praying just for these followers. I am also praying for everyone else who will have faith because of what my followers will say about me. 21 I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me. I also want them to be one with us. Then the people of this world will believe that you sent me.

22 I have honored my followers in the same way that you honored me, in order that they may be one with each other, just as we are one. 23 I am one with them, and you are one with me, so that they may become completely one. Then this world’s people will know that you sent me. They will know that you love my followers as much as you love me.

24 Father, I want everyone you have given me to be with me, wherever I am. Then they will see the glory that you have given me, because you loved me before the world was created. 25 Good Father, the people of this world don’t know you. But I know you, and my followers know that you sent me. 26 I told them what you are like, and I will tell them even more. Then the love that you have for me will become part of them, and I will be one with them.

Read John 17:1-26 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

During one of Jesus’ prayers on the night He was arrested, He prays for the disciples and all of His future followers in the coming months, years, and centuries. It is in a portion of this prayer that we see a profound statement and mission for Jesus’ followers, and in this prayer, we have a promise we can claim for when trouble comes our way.

A little over half way through the prayer as John records it, Jesus prays, “Father, I don’t ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one. They don’t belong to this world, and neither do I. Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours. I am sending them into the world, just as you sent me. I have given myself completely for their sake, so that they may belong completely to the truth.” (v. 15-19)

What I find amazing in this prayer is that Jesus specifically asks the Father to keep us safe from the evil one. This is an incredible promise we can claim when we feel attacked or targeted by Satan. However, with that said, Jesus also notes that He is not asking God to remove His followers from the world. While that would be one way to keep them safe, it is not Jesus’ chosen method.

This portion of the prayer echoes our mission as disciples to be salt and light to the world. We cannot have a good influence on others if we are millions of light years away in heaven. We cannot share what God has done for us if we have been stolen away to heaven at the moment we accepted Jesus into our hearts. In a subtle way, Jesus also implies here that death does not immediately shift His followers into heaven – because that would also technically be taking them out of the world.

Instead, Jesus says that while we don’t belong to this world, we have been sent into it just as the Father had sent Jesus. This is an incredible mission and one that we only have a handful of decades in history to move forward. Jesus asks for protection for us from the evil one, and while this promise might not always seem to smooth challenges or problems out in our lives, through this request we can be assured that any negative that does come is something that God can turn into a positive if we let Him.

Jesus has sent us into the world, and while He specifically requests that the Father not remove us, He has prayed for our safety and protection from Satan. Through Jesus and the truth He shared from God, we are completely God’s and this means that this world does not have any claim on us. With God’s truth and gospel message, we are sent on a mission for Jesus into the world. Jesus gave Himself for each of us and each of us is invited to return the favor by giving our lives back to Him.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Healed to Serve: Luke 4:38-39


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After Jesus finished healing at the synagogue, Luke’s gospel then tells us about someone else who needs healing. We also discover something we don’t often think of when we think of Jesus’ disciples, and we see the best response we can have when God has healed us. And this is all shared in just two short verses.

Let’s read this short, two-verse passage and discover some amazing truths about God’s character, Jesus’ love for us, and our response. Our passage is found in Luke’s gospel, chapter 4, and we will be reading it from the New International Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 38, Luke tells us that::

38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

In these two verses, we discover many things. In the first verse, we read that Jesus headed home with Simon after the synagogue service was finished, and when we compare this passage to Matthew and Mark, this Simon is Simon Peter, the disciple of Jesus. While Jesus and the disciples are at Simon’s home, we learn that Simon has a mother-in-law who has a fever.

It isn’t common to think of the disciples as being married and/or having families, but it is possible that some of them did. In this case, Simon Peter has a mother-in-law and the only way you have a mother-in-law is if you have a wife. Since this was Simon Peter’s home, it is likely that Simon’s wife was taking care of her mother even though she isn’t mentioned in this event.

When Jesus arrived, He is asked to help, and while help could mean a lot of things in this context, I believe Simon is asking for a miracle. Up to this point, Jesus has turned water into wine, He has cast out a demon, and He has promised a father that his son would be healed. While the gospels were written after the events had happened, it is unclear if word had returned to Jesus and the disciples that the long-distant miraculous healing had worked. All this is to say that Simon’s request for help might refer to a miracle, but it’s possible that he hasn’t seen any healing miracles at this point to base his faith on.

In the context of where this miracle is placed in the gospels, Peter simply places His faith in Jesus, specifically in who Jesus is, and not on a track record of seeing Jesus heal others. Having faith in Jesus because of who Jesus is and not what He can do is the way God wants us to have faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus shouldn’t be self-serving even if we occasionally ask for help in a personal way.

In the second verse of our passage, Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law, and she “got up at once and began to wait on them”. (v. 39)

This event ends with one of the most appropriate responses we can see when God has touched someone’s life. Immediately following being healed, Peter’s mother-in-law gets up and says “thank you” by serving Jesus and the group of disciples. One of the most appropriate ways of saying “thank you” to Jesus and to God for everything He has done for you and I is through serving Him.

While the other primary way we can give God thanks is by praising Him and giving Him the credit for this miracle, those things are immediate responses, and responses of a temporary nature. Serving lasts longer and actions speak louder than words. In the case of us living over 2,000 years later, we serve God through serving others, and when we serve those who cannot repay us with more than a “thank you”, we are serving as God has called us to serve.

It is also interesting that this miracle would have happened on a Sabbath afternoon. That morning, Jesus and the early disciples were worshiping at the synagogue, and this happened immediately following this. This detail is interesting for two reasons. First, this detail is interesting because this was still the day set apart for rest, and on this day, Jesus should be resting. Healing people didn’t exert the same level of sweat as plowing a field or lifting a hammer, but it was one thing Jesus was known for, and while Jesus had been a carpenter before starting His public ministry, healing people became what He was known for leading up to His death.

This first detail teaches us that: Jesus helps others because He can and because they need help. Jesus wasn’t interested in making people wait because He needed rest and Jesus was more than willing to use the time set aside for resting to help those who needed help. We don’t have any indication that Peter’s mother-in-law would have died if Jesus had waited, but waiting to heal someone isn’t the impression Jesus wants us to have about God’s love for us. God wants us to know that He is ready and willing to help us when we need help, and He never waits when there isn’t a good reason.

The second detail is that when Peter’s mother-in-law is healed, she gets up and serves Jesus and the disciples. This serving is also not resting, but we don’t see any hint of judgment or correction given from Jesus regarding this response. Perhaps this service didn’t draw negative light because it was a normal level of service for someone who was a host or hostess, and perhaps because there were no Pharisees around to look down on this healing miracle and the response it prompted.

In these two short verses, we discover how God is more than willing to help us when we need help, and that serving God is an appropriate way to say “thank you” for what He has done for us. And all of this help, service, and response is more than acceptable on the day God set aside for worship and rest.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always continue to seek God first and place Him first in your life. Don’t be afraid of asking God for help and don’t be afraid of saying “thank you” to God through serving Him and helping others.

Also, be sure to pray and study the Bible for yourself to personally grow closer to God each and every day. While other people can give you things to think about, always filter what you learn through the lens of the Bible – especially for the subject matters the Bible speaks most clearly about.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, or chicken out of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year of Miracles – Episode 7: When Jesus is invited home after worshiping in the synagogue, He learns that someone close to Simon Peter needs help. But it is still the Sabbath, which is the day set apart for resting. What will Jesus do?

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Right Beside Us: John 7:1-9

Focus Passage: John 7:1-9 (NASB)

As I read the gospels, sometimes I get the feeling as though Jesus and His disciples were together 24/7, and there was only an occasional break, such as when He sends 72 followers out to the neighboring villages, or when He sends the disciples alone across the lake while He goes up onto the mountain to pray.

However, in my mind, I see these breaks as the exception rather than the rule. Which is why when I read this journal entry’s passage, I have to ask myself the question: “Where were Jesus’ disciples?”

After Jesus is baptized and He begins His public ministry, we really don’t see much interaction between Him and His earthly family. This passage is really one of only a few places where interaction is recorded.

Perhaps one reason Jesus limited His interactions with His family is because of the pressure they put on Him to reveal Himself as the promised Messiah, or maybe it is an entirely different reason.

What we do know from the context and surrounding chapters is that just prior to this family dialog, Jesus had just finished pushing most of His popular crowd away, and He had left the area to return “home” with only the core group of 12 disciples.

Looking at the progression of events, Jesus’ brothers must have wondered why He would have done this. After all, in their minds, a Messiah who was going to overthrow the Romans needed lots of people rallied together to fight. Getting such a crowd, then pushing them all away for not being committed enough seems like a very counterproductive move.

But then what about our own lives? Are there ever any times that we feel closer to Jesus than others? Are there times where we are in a spiritual high point that contrasts sharply from the spiritual lows we all face?

Perhaps when we don’t see the disciples in this passage, or when we don’t see Jesus’ brothers included in most of the gospel story, we can conclude that there are times when Jesus will be/feel closer, and times when He feels farther away. This doesn’t mean He cares any more or less about us, but it may mean that we have moved closer to or further away from Him.

There may be times we don’t feel close to Jesus, but this doesn’t mean Jesus isn’t still right beside us.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Helping Jesus Today: Matthew 10:16-42

Focus Passage: Matthew 10:16-42 (GNT)

16 “Listen! I am sending you out just like sheep to a pack of wolves. You must be as cautious as snakes and as gentle as doves. 17 Watch out, for there will be those who will arrest you and take you to court, and they will whip you in the synagogues. 18 For my sake you will be brought to trial before rulers and kings, to tell the Good News to them and to the Gentiles. 19 When they bring you to trial, do not worry about what you are going to say or how you will say it; when the time comes, you will be given what you will say. 20 For the words you will speak will not be yours; they will come from the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

21 “People will hand over their own brothers to be put to death, and fathers will do the same to their children; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. 22 Everyone will hate you because of me. But whoever holds out to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, run away to another one. I assure you that you will not finish your work in all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “No pupil is greater than his teacher; no slave is greater than his master. 25 So a pupil should be satisfied to become like his teacher, and a slave like his master. If the head of the family is called Beelzebul, the members of the family will be called even worse names!

26 “So do not be afraid of people. Whatever is now covered up will be uncovered, and every secret will be made known. 27 What I am telling you in the dark you must repeat in broad daylight, and what you have heard in private you must announce from the housetops. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather be afraid of God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell. 29 For only a penny you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. 30 As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. 31 So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!

32 “Those who declare publicly that they belong to me, I will do the same for them before my Father in heaven. 33 But those who reject me publicly, I will reject before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 I came to set sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law; 36 your worst enemies will be the members of your own family.

37 “Those who love their father or mother more than me are not fit to be my disciples; those who love their son or daughter more than me are not fit to be my disciples. 38 Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples. 39 Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.

40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes God’s messenger because he is God’s messenger, will share in his reward. And whoever welcomes a good man because he is good, will share in his reward. 42 You can be sure that whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of these my followers because he is my follower, will certainly receive a reward.”

Read Matthew 10:16-42 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Jesus concludes His first big commission to His disciples by describing them as His representatives. In an interesting chain of statements, Jesus describes how people can truly help God, and this help comes through how we treat His followers. Jesus concludes this set of instructions by saying, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes God’s messenger because he is God’s messenger, will share in his reward. And whoever welcomes a good man because he is good, will share in his reward. You can be sure that whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of these my followers because he is my follower, will certainly receive a reward.” (v. 40-42)

In essence, the principle Jesus is sharing with His followers is that God rewards people based on how they treat His followers. This principle is profound, encouraging, and challenging.

The profound truth in Jesus’ words is that how people treat God’s followers is symbolically equivalent to how they treat Him. This is profound because it is a very practical measure for how God views human interaction. Someone who claims to believe God but who does not welcome or help people they know are His followers is rejecting God through their actions.

This is also encouraging for us as believers. If someone rejects us because of our belief in Jesus, this truth teaches us to not take it personally. In reality, the person rejecting us is really rejecting God, and we are free to move on in life. Perhaps it wasn’t the right time for them, or maybe we just planted some seeds that the Holy Spirit will grow later in the person’s life, but regardless of what God’s big picture is, when we face rejection because of our belief in God, we can move on freely because Jesus tells us they are rejecting God and not just us.

However, this principle is incredibly challenging too. The truth Jesus has shared has implications around how we as followers of Jesus treat other followers of Jesus. If we love sinners like Jesus did, but we are hostile towards those who are in the church, we are falling into the negative side of this teaching. While Jesus did share some harsh words aimed at the religious leaders in the first century, He was never hostile towards them. Many of the leaders were hostile towards Jesus, but Jesus didn’t return their anger. If we are to be like Jesus in this matter, we too are challenged to love and be kind towards those who are in the church – whether they believe the same doctrines as we do or not; whether they like the same style of music as we do or not; and whether they are friendly towards us or not.

The big truth in this conclusion to Jesus’ first big set of instructions for His followers is that how we treat others, and how they treat us when we are Jesus’ representatives on earth, is equivalent to interacting directly with Jesus in each and every case. This truth frees us up to not take rejection personally, and it also challenges us to be more kind and loving towards followers of Jesus who may look and act different from us.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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