The depth and beauty of Christ’s prayer for His disciples overwhelms, even
startles us, while viewing the scene of our Lord’s intercession before the ordeal of the Cross. At each coming we remain a little longer within the circle of those for whom Jesus prayed—Himself, His disciples, His Church, and us. It is a stupendous thought that in His prayer nearly two thousand years ago Christ included you and me. “I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message” (John 17:20).
It is a passionately earnest prayer that God will save this group of men from the attachment to corruptible treasures that is the mark of the world. Christ pleaded with an intensity beyond our comprehension that His disciples should be consecrated to the real, the eternal.
The burden of Christ’s prayer is that His disciples shall be sanctified by the truth. They are not merely to admire truth, or do no more than value it; they are to be dedicated to it. In the New Testament the word “truth” means more than merely true as opposed to untrue. It means genuine as opposed to spurious, perfect as opposed to imperfect. It is the property of substance as opposed to shadow.
We may say that our material possessions, our financial position and our properties are as a shadow compared with the only kind of position that really matters to God. Our rank or our position, even when and if deserved, is only as an imitation compared with the genuine qualities that make men great in the sight of God. Our intense activity is spurious unless it is a means to that great end for which we were called.
To be consecrated to the eternal means more than valuing incorruptible riches for ourselves. It means we shall desire eternal wealth for others. Jesus said,
“For them I sanctify Myself” (John 17:19). This meant that He desired the sanctification, or dedication to truth, of His own people so much that He was willing to pay the extreme price to bring it about. For us, this means being drawn by something outside of ourselves so vast and irresistible that we cannot see ourselves at all. It involves a kind of caring of which we are not capable at all without Christ.
When we ponder the Lord’s last prayer and through it know God’s will for us, we would be discouraged did we not believe in the timeless words, “I have finished my work” (Romans 15:23). He who saw the harvest in the seed of corn saw too the saints in the stumbling loyalty of the disciples. And so it is with us.
Catherine Baird, Evidence of the Unseen