2004-04-08 - Keep Them
John 17:11b Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are. (NAS)
It is the night prior to Jesus' crucifixion. Jesus is facing a mockery of justice at an illegal trial, a beating that killed most men who suffered it, the humiliation and abuse of the Way of the Cross, and an ignominious death between two thieves. I am struck by two things: where His thoughts are and who those thoughts are focused upon.
His thoughts are not of His pending trials or even of a road of escape. His escape is through the cross. Jesus eventually pleads with the Father that if there is another way that Jesus could take that alternate route. But He submits to the will of the Father and agrees that there is no other way to save mankind. But at this moment in time, the Master's thoughts are focused right here and right now. They are in the moment. He is taking care of the matters at hand, knowing that these other issues will come each to Him in the time prepared for that trial. Jesus is trusting the Father, even now, to keep this time to finish preparing the twelve disciples for what is about to come.
And Jesus' thoughts are on His disciples. Judas has left to betray the Lord. But even Judas is not out of Jesus' thoughts. As Jesus prays with the Father, the eleven are counted safe and the Son of Perdition is counted as lost to fulfill the scriptures. Jesus knows His time is very short. He turns His friends over to the Father asking, "... keep them in Thy name ...". His thoughts are for their well-being physically, emotionally and spiritually. They are all about to undergo the most severe trials of their lives. Their faith is about to be completely shattered at the death of the One they are rightly sure is the Christ, the Messiah. They have been told a number of times that death will not hold Him, but they can not understand. After three horrible days of doubt and despair, their faith will be rebuilt and restored. So for this moment, prepared in eternity past, Jesus prays for them. Not that the trials will pass them by. They are part of the plan as well. They have a purpose in shaping them for the job ahead. Jesus simply prays that they be kept secure and together during these trials.
Our ways are not His ways. That would be an understatement of epoch proportions. I'm sure my voice would have been with Peter when he said to Jesus far be it from Him to go to Jerusalem and be slain for the sins of the world. I'm willing to say that I would have been right there backing Peter, and waiting for Jesus to throw off the Roman yoke of oppression when Jesus' aim was far higher. Jesus' purpose for coming was to crush the power of sin and death, and to open the way to Heaven again so that we could live forever with God. When God doesn't make sense just hold on tight. Know you are in good company with the eleven. In His time and in His mighty purpose, the Father is keeping you safe as he works out His plan.
Just as a footnote, this marks the 9th anniversary of the first Christian Fellowship Devotionals article. It has been our humble honor and privilege to bring these insights to our subscribers over this period of time by God's grace. We praise God for the blessing He has given to both reader and author alike.
Grace & Peace,