You might have gotten a little confused by a couple of things: A) today’s title, and B) the fact that I’ve skipped over several verses in chapter 16 and the first part of 17. Let me address B first. As I’ve pointed out before, this is a devotional, not a commentary. Also, much of the material that I’ve skipped has been covered in the Blog elsewhere or will be.
As to the second point of confusion, I’m fully aware that Matt. 6:9-13 is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer.” My (small) problem with that it’s a misnomer: The Lord Jesus could never pray this prayer himself, since he has no sin “debts” from which he needed to be forgiven. John 17 makes up the longest recorded prayer of Jesus, and it’s commonly called the “High Priestly Prayer.” I like calling it “The Real Lord’s Prayer,” for the reasons stated above.
The prayer is split into 3 parts. Vss. 1-5 records Jesus’ prayer about himself, which we’ll examine in a few days when we delve into the nature of Christ. Today’s passage is Jesus’ prayer for his disciples who are with him in his last hours, and in vss. 20-26 (which we’ll look at tomorrow), he prays for all the believers who would come after them. So what can we learn about Jesus’ prayer for his disciples who are listening to him as he prays this?
• Jesus says that he had revealed the Father in vs. 6, but if you notice the footnote, you’ll see something interesting. Literally Jesus says that he revealed the Father’s “name” to his disciples. How had he done this? Obviously our Lord means something more than just revealing a literal name in the sense that we normally use. No, remember that in that culture, the term meant more than what people called you when addressing you. One’s “name” referred to one’s character, one’s reputation, the whole of their being. It’s the same issue as when Jesus told us that whatever we ask in his “name,” he’ll do. I’ve talked about this already.
• They'd been called out of the world by the Father and given to Jesus. He's claimed them, and he has protected them. Now he’s no longer going to be physically with them, so he’s asking the Father to protect them. The means he used to protect them and the means he asks the Father to do so is the same: through his “name.”
• Please notice what else he asks on their behalf: He doesn't ask the Father to take them out of the world, but that he'd protect them from the Evil One. Let me be brutally frank here—a lot of Christians seem to miss Jesus’ stated purpose here, and I myself have to struggle with the tendency. His people have to be involved in the physical world. The cloistered community, both official and nonofficial, is not part of his plan. What we need is not to be taken out of the world, but to be protected from the Evil One. And how we need that protection!
• We're to be set apart by the truth, in this context meaning God’s word. He could've said that the Father’s word is truth-ful, but that’s not what he said. He said it is truth. Just like Jesus himself, the word is truth given to us in physical form.
• And finally in this prayer, we see what he’s aiming for. He was sent by the Father, and now he’s sending us out in the same way.
I see five points above, any of which we can use for application. Take your pick.
Father, I know that my tendency is to protect myself by cloistering around other believers instead of reaching out to those who don’t know you. How’s about I do what you’ve called me to do, and I let you do the protecting?