Set apart by truth
As Jesus continued to petition the Father during His ‘High Priestly Prayer’, the disciples discovered a central truth of how they were going to maintain their oneness with the Father.
John 17:16-19 They are not of the world, as I am not of the world.
Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.
As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
I sanctify Myself for them, so they also may be sanctified by the truth.
Because they believed in Jesus for eternal life, the disciples were no longer of the world, meaning that they no longer represented the world’s values and the world’s values no longer represented them. They were, in fact, separated out from the world. From this, Jesus requests that the Father would sanctify them. To be sanctified means to be set apart for a Holy purpose. Jesus will be sending His disciples into the world, into a realm that no longer represents them. In this way, their mission will be just like Jesus’ mission – enter into hostile territory in order to proclaim the good news of salvation and Christ’s offer of eternal life for all who believe.
However, the part that blows me away is verse 17 – Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.
Jesus asks the Father to set apart the disciples for a Holy purpose, and He requests that the Father accomplishes the sanctification by the truth…which sounds all well and good, and would be a wonderful request if Jesus had stopped His sentence right there. But He didn’t stop…instead, in His request to the Father, Jesus revealed one of the most rock-bottom, foundational, and practical realities for anyone who follows Jesus:
Your word is truth.
It is only in the Father’s statements that the truth of life is found. The Father proclaims truth, and it is by that truth the disciples will be set apart. As the Father’s truth enters their lives and they become more like Jesus, they will be made ready to participate in God’s Holy purposes – both in this life and in eternity.
And it gets better as Jesus continues…
John 20-21 I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message.
May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.
May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me.
Jesus prayed SPECIFICALLY for us. We are the ones who have believed in Jesus through the disciples’ message. Jesus asked the Father that we would also experience the same intimately connected “oneness” with the Father that Jesus was praying for His disciples.
At the end of verse 21, Jesus revels our purpose in being so intimately connected with each other and with God: so the world may believe You sent Me. Just like the disciples, we too are set apart, for God’s Holy purpose of showing the world that the Father sent Jesus to be our Savior and that eternal life is available for those who trust in Him for it.
Our “oneness” with the Father is what spreads this message. Being one with the Father, as Jesus was, will sanctify us…and our relationship with the Father is maintained by focusing on the truth of God’s word.
God has spoken His word to humanity in two distinct ways – through the Bible (which we commonly refer to as ‘God’s Word’) and through His son Jesus (who is referred to as ‘the Word’).
If we are going to participate in God’s Holy purpose and share the good news in the world, then our next step is both straightforward and practical – we must spend time in God’s Word and with Jesus, the Word.