And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled.
“You live in a dangerous world!” Not mincing any words, Jesus had made this abundantly clear to His disciples earlier in the evening. Jesus told them to expect the world to hate them, because it had hated Him (John 15:18-19). He warned them to expect opposition in the days ahead: “in the world you face persecution” (John 16:33). So the key word through this section of Jesus’ prayer, and the next (17:15), is “protect”. Jesus also uses the synonym “guard” in today’s text. In the face of danger and hostile opposition, Jesus asks the Father to guard and protect His friends as He leaves this world.
Jesus had been the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:11) to His disciples, guarding and guiding His sheep through the darkest valleys, even laying down His life to protect them. As He leaves this world Jesus asks His Father to protect and guard them; the forces of evil darkness are threatening. John Calvin, in his commentary on this prayer, strikingly describes what Jesus prays: “He brooded them under his wings as a hen doth her chickens, but now when he departeth he prayeth his Father to cover them with his safeguard.”
In asking the Father to protect His disciples, Jesus asks the Father to protect them in the “name” God had given to Him. “Protect them in your name that you have given me.” Here, as throughout the Bible, the “name” of God stands for more than a combination of sounds. To the Hebraic mind the “name” of God stood for the sum total of who God had revealed Himself to be: his character, attributes, and nature. “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10). To rely on the Father’s character as Jesus has revealed Him is to be safe and protected from danger. To pray that we be protected in the Father’s name is to be surrounded by the Father’s love, compassion, grace, and forgiveness.
We are the little chicks our Father “doth brood under His wings”. We nestle close to the Father’s heart. The Father is protecting and guarding us from all spiritual danger that threatens. Hold to Jesus’ gracious words: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one” (John 10:28-30).
Rest close to the Father’s heart!
What are there in Jesus’ words today to know; to feel; to do?