Holy Wednesday — The Distinction of Glory
But now I am coming to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I am not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them away from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth (John 17:13-17).
This may be the one part of Jesus’ prayer we might have preferred he not pray. Here Jesus confesses a hopeful yet sobering truth; the world hated Jesus and it will hate us. If we truly live for Jesus, bear His name and bring him glory, the world will react to us as it did to Him. Jesus begins by praying that the joy He knows as the Son of the Father in the Spirit may be ours. Just by hearing his prayer we experience a deep joy in bearing His image, living in His name and being covered by His glory. What joy!
However, the prayer quickly turns to the reality of the opposition of the world to the things of God. We must note, the reason the world hates us is because we are not one of them. We are ‘not of the world’. This can indicate a life lived according to a set of other-worldly, kingdom values. It can refer to an unwillingness to participate in celebrating sin or sanctioning the enculturation of lies through our acquiescence. It can also point to our passion to share the good news of the coming of the kingdom of God in a world offended by the implications of its message; especially its call to repentance and the affirmation that we cannot save ourselves. In these and many other ways, haven been given God’s word in Jesus Christ, we will be changed, and that change will put us in direct opposition to our culture.
Jesus, knowing the implications of this truth, adds two powerful petitions to His prayer; that we be separated from the evil one, and that truth, God’s truth, absolute truth will sanctify us. On this fourth day of Holy Week, are we committed to living as ones ‘not of this world’? Are we willing to speak and live the truth of God’s kingdom come and claim for ourselves the name of ‘Jesus followers’? And are we prepared for the world to hate us for it?
Encouragement for the Day
As long as we know Who is truth and cling to Him, we can face the rejection of the world in whatever form that might take. May we experience what it means that Jesus’ joy is ‘made full in us’, and may that be enough to meet every need, still every fear and anchor every hope.
Merciful and triune God, it’s not easy to hear that the world may hate us because we follow you. Thank you for praying for us here in 2023. You knew when you prayedthis prayer what we would be facing today. You anticipated the challenges of living for you amidst all that is happening in the world around us. We join with our brothers and sisters in Christ over the last 2,000 years inproclaiming that whatever the world may say, we find our source of truth and hope and peace solely in you. Encourage our spirit and let us understand what it means that your joy is made complete in us. May we experience that joy as we walk with you this Holy Week. In your holy and precious name, we pray. Amen.