“Protected by the Power of Jesus’ Name” John 17:11
7th Sunday of Easter – May 27 & 28, 2017
Jesus says: “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 – the name You gave Me – so that they may continue to be one as we are one.” John 17:11
This past Monday, thousands were leaving the concert in Manchester UK, when a suicide bomber killed 22, injured many others – children as young as 8 years old died! What had they done to deserve this? Nothing. They were simply at the concert. Why did it happen? Because the world is full of evil.
We do all kinds of things to “protect” ourselves and our children. From something as simple as putting on sun screen or insect repellent; from plastic plugs in electrical outlets, and car seats in vehicles; home alarm systems; to national intelligence – we do everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones from potential dangers. But terrible things still happen!
So, how do we respond: “Beam me up, Scotty!” (Do you remember this from the old Star Trek series? Captain Kirk, when in trouble would command Scotty to “beam me up” – and they would be “whisked away” to safety.) Do you (like me) sometimes wish to be “beamed up” / rescued from some of the tough times in your life? Do you pray, “Thy Kingdom come” – right now! “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”
Of course “beaming up” is science fiction – but God COULD do even more. The Bible tells us Elijah was taken to heaven in the fiery chariot. (2 Kings 2:11) This past Thursday was the celebration of Jesus bodily ascending into heaven. This is what (in this weekend’s Gospel reading from John 17) Jesus was telling His disciples as He prayed out loud, on Maundy Thursday, when He knew that He was soon to suffer, die and rise again; and then 40 days later, physically ascend into heaven. Jesus prayed out loud to His Father in heaven: “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, the name You gave me, so that they may be one as We are one.” John 17:11 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that You protect them from the evil one.” (v.15)
God’s Word is clear that we are protected “in” the world and Jesus is still VERY present with us in His Word and Sacraments – Jesus’ promise just before His Ascension: “Go…make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them everything I have commanded you, and Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20; and His physical presence with us in the bread/Body, wine/Blood, of the Lord’s Supper – “take eat this IS My body… take drink this IS My blood… for the forgiveness of sins and strengthening of faith.”)
And we NEED His constant presence, for because of the Fall into sin, the world is a dangerous place. One of the most crucial lessons to learn as a Christian is how to handle suffering. For, in this fallen world, suffering is a certainty.
Elizabeth Hanson, a medical missionary in Central Africa, served the Lord faithfully for years. One night rebels broke into her room and raped her on the dirt floor. As it was taking place, she cried out to the Lord, “Why are You allowing this to happen to me?” In an almost audible voice, the Lord replied, “You belong to Me; your mind, heart and body. They aren’t just doing this to you, but to Me. I am with you.”
Elizabeth didn’t tell this horrendous story very often, but years later, in the U.S., she was speaking at a woman’s retreat when she felt the Holy Spirit leading her to tell her story. She did and then went on with her prepared talk. Afterwards, everyone left except two young girls. The older girl came up and said, “This is my 13 year-old sister. Two months ago she was raped in the park and she hasn’t spoken since.” Elizabeth’s eyes and those of the young girl met and filled with tears. They embraced, wept, and talked for two hours. Elizabeth talked with her about Jesus Christ. By “The Power of Jesus’ Name” – that girl is serving Christ today because Elizabeth Hanson “was protected” through her suffering and let God use her horrendous experience to minister to others.
Jesus says, “It is necessary that we are still in the world.” 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.” Romans 10:13-17 – God’s Truth – spoken by Christians IN the world but not OF the world.
As we live in this world, we are “in Christ Jesus” and Christ Jesus is in us: The Apostle Paul writes: “It is 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.” Galatians 2:20
Living IN this world for Jesus does not have to be “extraordinary” like Elizabeth. Joanne Marxhausen tells story of young boy, Jaimie, who wanted to see Jesus. Jaime’s father said, “You’ll find Jesus today.” Jamie didn’t understand what his dad said. Throughout that day, Jamie stopped to share Jesus’ love with a sad little girl. He offered part of his peanut-butter & jelly sandwich with a lonely old man on a park bench; he gave a drink of water to the hot and tired lawn-mower man; and talked with his 85 year-old neighbor. That night Jamie’s dad asked him if he found Jesus? When Jamie sadly said, “no” – his dad, having seen some of the “love” that Jamie had shown to others, said to Jamie that he had seen Jesus through the “random acts of kindnesses” that God provided for Jamie to do.
Jesus says: “I was hungry… thirsty… When you did it for one of the least of these…” Matthew 25:40 “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17
There WILL be a time when we will be “taken from this veil of tears to Jesus in heaven” – either at our time of physical death, or when our Lord returns again in glory – (1 Thessalonians 4:17) 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, teach, share and help serve and deliver other people God has placed in our lives? Jesus has called us, saved us, sanctified us – “set us apart / made us holy for His special ministry” – we are protected by the “power of His name” and “protected, equipped and empowered by “His Truth.” Knowing this we can also boldly confess: “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)
Protected by the Power of Jesus’ name, Amen!
See you in worship this next weekend!