If I were Jesus, which I’m not, but if I were, I’d been more than ready to get back to glory! Think about how constrained he’d been for thirty-three years—deity in a human body. Unfortunately, he had to endure much more human suffering before he made his exit. Even so, he prays for our benefit and comfort.
As we continue in the seventeenth chapter of John, listen to what he says:
“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. 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. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.John 17:13-19 (NIV)
Jesus knew how wonderful heaven was, and as much as he might have wanted to just swoop up the disciples with him in that moment, not only did he know his suffering was necessary for our salvation; he also knew our remaining was necessary for our sanctification and the spread of the gospel to the whole world.
We have to remain behind, in a world where we once felt at home in our sin, and now live as aliens and strangers due to our faith in Christ.
The disciples were no longer of this world because they had identified with the One who would be crucified. The same goes for us. This world is not our home. When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior our earthly passport is cancelled, and we’re issued a new one for heaven. In the meantime, we’re stuck in transit!
Thankfully, he reminds us through this recorded prayer that even though we’re living in a fallen world, he covers us with his protection from the evil one. What’s even more amazing is that though we live every day surrounded and bombarded by evil, he’s constantly setting us apart, sanctifying and making us holy until the day of his return.
The longer I live by faith in Christ, the more a stranger I become to the things of this world.
I guess that’s a sign of our sanctification—a distaste for this place and a longing for another.
Are you stuck in transit? Be encouraged. He will come again to pick us up and take us home with him.
Grace and Peace