We can find joy in the strangest places! We can find joy in a dangerous world. We can even find joy when others hate us. Jesus prayed for us the night before he died that you and I might know his joy. Our risen and ascended Lord still prays for us at the right hand of God that you and I might know his joy.
“Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
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.
13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Usernames and passwords can drive a person crazy. Before you can access any information anywhere it seems these days you have to have a username and password. And invariably you can’t remember one or the other. So, you search from scraps of paper in your desk drawer to protected sites on your computer or phone and hope that you can get back to the original screen that was asking for the information in the first place. And, as you know, if you guess wrong one too many times, you are locked out from that site for a day or more. The whole process is aggravating to say the least!
Let’s try to simplify things today. Our text is a portion of a prayer Jesus prayed on behalf of us all on Maundy Thursday evening. In this prayer Jesus asks his heavenly Father to do two things for us to fill our lives with joy. He asks him to protect us from evil and to purify us for Christian service. The only thing we need is – you guessed it – the username and password. Let’s see if we can figure out what they are in our text and then let’s remember to use them!
Remember your username and password
it protects us from evil
it purifies us for service
Jesus prayed: “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.” What is the name, you ask! In verse 8, Jesus had said to his Father, “I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.” The user name for every Christian is the same: God’s Word. God’s Word protects us from evil. Jesus prayed that our Holy Father who is untouched by sin and wickedness would protect us who face those problems every day of our lives. Jesus did not pray that our Father would take us out of this world, but rather that he would protect us while we are here.
If life was all about our personal advantage, Jesus should have prayed. "Father, get us out of this world as quickly as you can!” It’s not safe around here. No matter where we go or what we do there is a price to be paid for discipleship. A grandson of mine was kicked off a baseball team because his parents wouldn’t let him play on Sunday mornings. A young lady lost her job as a waitress because she refused to take off her wedding ring while working. An accountant walked away from a lucrative salary because of ethics violations in the workplace. The children come home from school with new vocabulary that is so vulgar it even makes mom and dad blush with shame. But instead of asking his Father to whisk us out of here, Jesus prays to leave us right in the midst of a world in which we will often be a target. He openly acknowledges to his Father - almost in an offhand way! - that this world will hate us just as they hated him (14). Just cling to Christ and his Word no matter what, and hatred will find its way to you in short order - typically first from your own sinful nature!
So, the user name is God’s Word. Jesus says the password is the name you gave me. When the angel told Mary that she was going to have a child, Mary was told to give him the name Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” Joseph was told that the child was named Jesus because he would “save his people from their sins.” The password is only 5 letters and you don’t even need a number in the password. Jesus is the password.
Jesus says, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None was lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” Jesus has now ascended into heaven so that he might protect his church from harm and danger at the right hand of God just as surely as he was protecting them when he walked among them on the earth. Judas’ destruction was not a failure on Jesus part. The fault was his. He resisted Jesus every attempt to keep him safe just as the Scriptures had said. Jesus protects us as we live under the shadow of his cross.
Then Jesus prayed: “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” Jesus leaves us in a dangerous world that hates us so that we might have “the full measure of (his) joy.” How can that be? What is the joy we are supposed to have in this evil world? The Bible says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (He 12:1). Jesus’ joy was doing his Father’s saving will. Jesus’ joy was to love those whom he had come to save so much that he would not even allow cross and hell and shame and death to turn him from that path! Jesus’ joy was not to get away from what the Father had called him to do but to pray for strength to drink the cup the Father had placed before him. Jesus wants us to know the joy of suffering for the sake of looking forward to the glory that awaits us in heaven.
To live life as a child of God – even in a sinful world and in the face of great opposition – is the greatest joy God could give anyone in this life! That’s why Jesus’ joy was to save us even though outwardly it brought him everything but joy! That’s why Jesus’ joy was so full when he cried out “It is finished!” That’s why Jesus’ joy was so full on Easter evening when he announced to his whole church: “Peace be with you!”
Now, Jesus longs for you to find the “full measure of [his] joy” by bearing our cross in service to God and those he puts around us! It is a huge challenge to Remember your Username and Password! It is so easy to forget the Word of God and Jesus because the world has its own idea of what one’s “pursuit of happiness” ought to be. Even our sinful heart believes that joy can only be found when we seek our own advantage.
But right there is the vital connection between what was Jesus’ joy and what he prays might be your joy too. Jesus had just spent three years teaching his disciples to grow in their confidence that they didn’t have to worry about themselves! Jesus taught them that by his saving and protecting name they had everything they could need! And even though Jesus has ascended into heaven, Jesus prayed for his Father to continue to provide that saving and protecting love and care just as Jesus had done during his earthly ministry.
He does that through His Word, through Jesus still! “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” God’s Word gives us confidence that our sins are forgiven. We are at peace with God. We have a certain hope of heaven. God’s Word enables us to take our eyes off ourselves. God’s Word gives us confidence to find our joy in living the Father’s will and in being a blessing to one another – yes, even those who hate us. That is the path to finding the “full measure of Jesus’ joy.” It is what purifies us for Christian service.
So, we rely on God’s truth. It never lets us down. God’s Word frees us from ourselves and teaches us to live under the protecting care of our Holy Father to find lasting joy in life.
“As you have sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” Jesus wants you to experience real joy in living out our Father’s will in service to those he puts around us in our homes, our communities, our churches.