John 17:6-19 (NRSV)
Verse 6"I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Verse 7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; Verse 8for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. Verse 9I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. Verse 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.
Verse 11And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. Verse 12While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. Verse 13But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. Verse 14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Verse 15I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. Verse 16They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.
Verse 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. Verse 18As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. Verse 19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
Today’s reading from the Gospel of John is part of a chapter-long prayer in which, in anticipation of his coming death, resurrection, and departure from this world, Jesus prays for himself, for his disciples, and for the church. In these verses in particular Jesus prays for the joy, protection, and holiness of those whom he claims as his “own” because they have been entrusted to him by the Father. These are mine, says Jesus, because of his close relationship to the Father. They are his, not in a sense of ownership as when referencing a toy or a car, but rather in a sense of love as when referencing a child, a friend, or a partner. Jesus is praying for the ones he loves and whom he calls his own out of concern that they will continue to be protected from evil in the world. Sometimes simple words speak to me the best, and here is the simple word: to believe is to be one whom Jesus calls his own.
God of grace, we believe. Help our unbelief. Continue to claim and call us as your own. Amen.