The Preciousness of the Divine Name
John 17:11
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father…

I. THE CONTEMPLATED CONDITION OF THE DISCIPLES, the peculiar ground of their need. "I am no more in the world," &c. The fact of His going to the Father could not but be to Him a satisfaction and joy. But He could not forget His friends. His thoughts went forth to their condition without His bodily presence, on which they had been so much accustomed to lean. His words suggest the thought of —

1. Their bereavement (Matthew 9:15). It is impossible for us to form an adequate conception of their loss.

2. Their exposure: "These are in the ungodly, careless, unbelieving world." Jesus knew well what it was to be in the world; hence His concern (John 16:33). Christ Jesus, in His bodily and visible presence, is absent from the world still, but His disciples are in it. It is well to know that His prayer and intercession for them are better than His human presence.

II. THE BLESSING REQUESTED FOR THEM — "Keep through Thine own name," &c. Here, for the only time recorded, Jesus addresses God as Holy Father. He appealed to the holiness of God; and surely no appeal could be more appropriate and beautiful, when preservation from the world and from evil was asked for. Holiness is the halo of unutterable splendour which surrounds the nature and character of the Almighty. This very designation suggests at once the power and the disposition of the Father to keep these disciples. It was the pledge of the preservation, and the guarantee of the safe keeping of all God's children now (Psalm 30:4; Psalm 97:12). Two remarks are here necessary. The Authorised Version says "through," but the preposition in the original is "in." According to the most ancient manuscripts, the petition reads, "Keep them in Thy name, that name which Thou hast given Me." Jesus alone had fully manifested the name of God. And the point is that His disciples might be kept in the name of God, not in a vague indefinite sense, but in that name as personally embodied in Christ. The Saviour prays for His disciples, that they might be kept —

1. In the knowledge of this name. Many temptations would assail them from Jewish prejudice and Gentile philosophy, from various forms of worldly wisdom and human speculation. They could only be kept right in their views of God, as they were kept by Him. It is human to err; and on no theme have men, when left to themselves, wandered more widely and disastrously than in their views of God.

2. In the experience of that name. This knowledge was not a barren truth, but mighty, formative, and fertilizing (John 1:12). As Jews, they had a knowledge of God as the God of Israel before; but the Divine name never had such power over them as when they came to realize its glory in Christ. It arrested, subdued, melted, purified them; it was in them a power for spiritual renewal and moral transformation. These disciples left in the world would be exposed to manifold malign influences; and only so long as they were kept in the consciousness of the power of God's name, could they continue true to their mission.

3. In the consolation of that name. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe" — safe from the accusations of conscience and the thunder of law, the perils of life and the fears of death. Just as a child in darkness, trembling for fear, is cheered by the sound of his mother's voice or the certainty of his father's presence, even though unseen, so does the name of God, as revealed in Christ, sustain and encourage the souls of His people in the dreary and often trying pilgrimage to heaven.

III. THE OBJECT DESIRED. "That they may be one, as we are." How much depended on their union, strength, safety, and success. Discord and disunion could not fail to bring disaster and failure at the very beginning of the Christian history.

1. The model of this union: "as we are one." Jesus does not ask that He may be one with the Father, but asserts this oneness as a fact. There was a oneness with the Father existing from eternity. But He here prays as the "Man Christ Jesus," whose purposes and plans, desires and hopes, were the same as the Father's.

2. What then would be the manifestation of this oneness? Unity of mind, will, and affection in relation to their Master and His work, a unity resulting from participation in His life and devotion to His glory? Only suppose that these disciples were to go forth with differing views and discordant purposes in their commission. Or, suppose that they were to go forth with clashing opinions about the claims of Christ Himself; one holding His supreme Godhead, another viewing Him as the highest of created beings, and a third regarding Him merely as a man, and so on; the issue in such a case could only be spiritual disaster and failure. There might be, and there were, differences between them in many things, but touching the character and claims of the Christ of God they were as one. And this oneness of view and feeling binding them to the Saviour, and pervading all their work for Him, was to be maintained by their being kept in the Father's name as revealed in Jesus.

(J. Spence, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

WEB: I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them through your name which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are.

The Pathway to Unity
Top of Page
Top of Page