St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

The Word Is For His Workers

Sermon on John 17:11b-19

Text: “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.”

Each profession has its tools that it needs to carry out its task. The farmer has his implements, tractor, plow, etc. The carpenter has his tools – hammer, saw, nails. The businessman has his computers. If you’re going to be successful in any profession, you must have the right tools. You would have a great deal of trouble farming without the implements. You and I are workers for the Lord. Everything we do is for him because we are his. Jesus wants us to be successful, so he gives us the tools that we need. The tool that he gives is his Word, the Bible. THE WORD IS FOR HIS WORKERS 1. By It They Are Protected From Evil. 2. By It They Are Consecrated In Service.

Our text comes to us from a conversation that Jesus had with his disciples in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday evening. Here in the seventeenth chapter, Jesus prays for his disciples, who would remain on the earth, after he ascended into heaven. His prayer is also for all believers who would follow them across the centuries.

He begins by saying, “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.” (Verse 11b) The first portion of Jesus’ prayer deals with protection. Out of love for his flock, Jesus prayed that they be kept safe and secure against all that would come their way. As Jesus said in verse 12, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.” While Jesus was on the earth, he kept his followers safe. Not one of the disciples was lost. Those Jesus chose to be his disciples were still with him. However, Jesus does acknowledge that one would be lost. “None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” (Verse 12) Jesus, of course, is speaking of Judas, who would betray him later that evening. Jesus said that he would betray Jesus, so that Scripture would be fulfilled. This is not to say that Judas had to betray Jesus, as if he had no choice in the matter. Rather, as God looked across the centuries, he saw that Judas would betray Jesus.

However, Jesus is more concerned with his followers. Yes, he had protected them while he was there, but what would happen when he was gone? We read in verse 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.” Soon, Jesus would ascend into heaven. This past Thursday was the celebration of that fact. Jesus returned to heaven, where he is seated at God’s right hand.

Yet, he was concerned about what would happen to those who were left behind. He said in verse 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.” The world will hate the Christian, simply for living the way that God wants them to. Martin Luther once wrote, “The world is bound to crucify whatever is God.” There is a natural animosity between the unbeliever and the believer. That is because they are following two completely different leaders. There are those who follow Christ and those who follow Satan.

Jesus alludes to this in verse 15, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” Jesus realizes that his workers must remain in the world, for the message of salvation must be spread from one generation to the next. However, while his workers are still here, they will need protection from the evil one, that is, Satan. Satan will do his level best to see that as many as possible spend their eternity with him in hell. He doesn’t want us to live God-pleasing lives. He doesn’t want the message of salvation spread throughout the world. So, he will put his efforts into seeing us fail.

Is there any help available to us? Jesus alluded to this help several times in our text already. He spoke of “the name” as being that which protects. The name refers to everything that God has made known to us about himself in his Word. It is only in his Word that he reveals himself. By his Word, we are protected from the evil one. With God’s help, we can defeat all of Satan’s advances. Look at the example of Jesus as he was tempted by Satan for those forty days in the wilderness. Every time that Satan came to Jesus with a temptation, Jesus countered with a passage from Scripture. Finally, Satan had to leave because he knew that Jesus was not going to fall. It is no wonder that in the Sixth chapter of his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul points to us arming ourselves with the Word of God, as a Roman soldier would put on his armor. With the Word of God, which Jesus has given us, we can defeat Satan. We are protected from the evil one. God’s Word is our weapon of defense.

However, the Bible is more than a defensive weapon. It is also used to build, to build us up to be faithful servants of God. Jesus continues his prayer in verse 17, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” Note the parallel there in that verse. Sanctify by truth – word is truth. In other words, ‘Sanctify them by your Word.” We often use the words “sanctify” or “sanctification,” without really thinking of their meaning. “Sanctify” means to “make holy.” We are made holy by the Word of God. Of course, we know that it is the Holy Spirit working through the Word that makes us holy. The Holy Spirit creates the faith in our hearts, which leads us to accept the sacrifice that Jesus made for our sins. Through the word, we are made holy, because through it we are brought to faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Notice that Jesus said, “Your word is truth.” The word “is” is like an equals sign in mathematics. In other words, ‘Your word equals truth.’ This is especially important for the world in which we live. Many people, including those who profess to believing in the words of the Bible, will say that it is full of errors. Men added their own ideas. Others will say that the Bible ‘contains’ the Word of God. At first, that sounds pretty good, until you realize what they are actually saying. What they are saying that, in addition to God’s Word, it also contains other things, as well. They don’t believe that miracles can happen, so they try to explain them away. They don’t believe in a resurrection, so they will say that Jesus never really died. However, we know and believe that the Bible is God’s Word, even though it was written by men like Moses, David, Peter and Paul. As it says in 2 Peter 1:21, “Prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit..” God’s Word is truth, and it sanctifies us.

In addition to the meaning of “make holy” for the word “sanctify,” it also carries the idea of “to consecrate, set aside for a particular task.” Through the Word of God, we have been called apart from the rest of the world to do something. Jesus tells us about our task in verse 18, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” Jesus’ disciples were to be sent into the world. Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples (Acts 1:8), “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” They were sent out to be Jesus’ witnesses. In a court of law, a witness is to tell all that they know for a fact. They tell what they have seen and heard. This is also true for Jesus’ disciples. They were to go out into the world and witness to all about Jesus.

This task has been passed down from generation to generation in the church, until it has reached us. We are the ones who are sent out into the world. We have been sanctified by the Word of God. We have been made holy and receive the power to go out and be Jesus’ witnesses. There are many ways that we can do this. For example, we do this as we support the work of the church, both at home and abroad, through our offerings. We do so by praying for the men and women who have been sent out to witness to Jesus both in the pulpit and the classroom. We do so by encouraging young people to consider full-time work in the church. There is also the face-to-face talking about God to others. I’m not even talking about going door to door. I’m talking about our friends, relatives, acquaintances, and neighbors, who don’t yet know Jesus as their Savior. We witness to others by what we say to them and even how we conduct our lives. Through the word, we are set apart for a lifetime of service to the Lord.

So, since we are protected by God’s Word and are set apart and empowered by that Word, it only naturally follows that we will want to be in constant contact with God’s Word. We need more than just a once a week contact with God’s Word. We need to be in God’s Word daily. Now I could just say, ‘Read your Bible.’ However, then you are faced with the how. Allow me to make a few suggestions. First, pick a time of the day to do your reading. As far as the method is concerned, there are several. You can pick up the Bible and read it from Genesis to Revelation. This allows you to see God’s plan of salvation unfold. You can find shorter Bible selections on the front page of our bulletin. On the bottom of the pages in Meditations, there are suggested readings. There are suggestions in our hymnals. There are other options, as well. Yet, the method is not nearly as important as the actual reading. It is God’s Word that protects us from Satan, and it is God’s Word that sets us apart to do God’s will. May we become Bible students so that we become experts using the tool which God has given us, namely, his Word. Amen.