“Beam me up, Scotty!” Do you remember this from the old Star Trek series? Captain Kirk, when in trouble, or finished with his “mission” would command Scotty, the technician on the Enterprise to “beam me up” – and they would be “whisked away” to safety. Did you (or like me, do you) sometimes wish to be “beamed up” / rescued from some of the tough times in your life?
Of course “beaming up” is science fiction on Star Trek or other TV or videos – but God COULD do it. We know that “Enoch walked with God and was no more;” Elijah was taken to heaven in the fiery chariot; and this past Thursday was the Ascension of our Lord. This is what Jesus was telling His disciples as He prayed out loud on Maundy Thursday, as we read today. Jesus prayed: “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, protect them by the power of Your name… While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name You gave Me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled… My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth.” (John 17: 11-12, 15-17)
A. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world… Protect them…
Although we cannot “see and touch” Jesus as Mary and Thomas did, God’s Word is clear that Jesus is still “in” the world – not as before His Ascension, but still VERY present with us in His Word and Sacraments, as He promised just before His Ascension, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20); and His physical presence is with us in the bread/Body, wine/Blood, of the Lord’s Supper.
As we live in this dangerous world, God’s Word warns us: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15)
B. None was lost except …
Judas is a very sad example of the world. God’s Word warns: “Whoever does not believe is condemned already…” and “let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.” Judas was one of the twelve! “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10) What does the use of our money reflect as to where our love is focused?
C. It is necessary that we are still in the world…
We are still in the world to speak and live the truth of God’s Word. God’s Word is clear: “‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone proclaiming to them? …Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word about Christ.” Christians need to be IN the world but not OF the world!
As our youth go off to high school and colleges, we especially pray that God would bless them as they are “in the world, not of the world” – especially in high school or universities where they live in dormitories or apartments with those who are deceived by the world. We, in the world, can befriend them, show the love of Jesus in our words and actions without “becoming of the world” – living in their lost and sinful worldliness. God’s Word instructs us, “Set an example…in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
D. Protect them by the power of Your name…
Jesus’ prayer – v.15 My prayer is not that You take them out of the world (rapture), but that You protect them by the power of Your name… placed upon us at our Baptism. As we live in this world, we are “in Christ” and Christ in us: The Apostle Paul writes: “No longer I who live but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
E. Sanctify them by Your Word of truth…
“Sanctify” means to live in the world – set apart for sacred use – for the special plans / good works God has prepared for us to do, kept safe by the truth of God’s Word. His promise, “if you continue in My Word then you are My disciples and the truth will set you free.”
There WILL be a time when we will be “taken up” / “beam me up, Jesus!” – either at our physical death, or when our Lord returns again in glory. Right now, we are still “in this world” – Jesus still has important work to do through us. What ACTIONS does Jesus have prepared for us to do today / this week / in the days and weeks ahead – to witness, save, teach, share and help serve and deliver other people God has placed in our lives? Jesus has called us, saved us, sanctified us – protects us by the “power of His name,” equipped by “His Truth / His changeless Gospel / His changeless Word.” In that marvelous name of Jesus, Amen!
Looking to join you this next weekend as we celebrate Pentecost! (The third MAJOR festival of the Church Year!)