The eleven disciples listened in wonder as Jesus continued His prayer to His Father on their behalf. Their world was turning upside down; Jesus was leaving them, and giving them instructions for His absence. And as Jesus’ prayer unfolded, they heard Him entrust them to His Father for safekeeping.
“Now I am coming to You,” Jesus prayed. ” I told them many things while I was with them in this world, so that they would be filled with joy. I have given them Your Word.
“And the world hates them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, any more than I do. John 17:13-16 NLT
Anyone who is a young person or who has been a young person knows how much we all want to belong– whether it’s to a family, to a team, or to a group of popular kids, or to a community, to a country, to an army, or to an association. We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves, and to be accepted without question by the leaders and by our peers in the group.
Jesus had chosen His twelve disciples out from the world, so that they would belong with Him and share His Father and His Family Spirit. As He prepared to leave this world, He entrusted them to His Father’s safekeeping. They would remain in the world to do His will for a time, and be full of joy as they kept the Father’s Word which was given them by Jesus. But having left the world behind to follow Jesus, they were the targets of the hatred of the world, and especially targets of the evil one, whose kingdom had been repeatedly defeated by Jesus as He rescued souls and brought them into His Father’s Family.
The disciples were going to continue the work Jesus had begun– even greater works, He told them, because He was going to His Father. As He prayed that night for His disciples, Jesus asked His Father to keep them safe from the hatred of the evil one. They belonged now to Him and to His Father’s Family, not to the world.