"Them Which Thou Hast Given Me"

"I pray not for the world, but for them that Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine. And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them . . . And I have declared unto them Thy Name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:26).

Not for the world did the Lord ask in that sacred hour, the time had not come for that. It will come in due course, and when He asks for it, it shall be given to Him, for God, His Father, hath said, "Ask of Me, and I shall give the heathen for Thine inheritance and the uttermost part of the earth for Thy possession" (Ps. 2). And though the kings of the earth combine against Him and take counsel with Satan himself, as they will do, to frustrate the will of God and to keep Christ out of His inheritance (Rev. 17), it will be in vain. The Father's pledge to His Son will be honoured and He shall dash the rebellious hosts in pieces like a potter's vessel and shepherd the nations with a rod of iron But here, in John 17, His request was for something very different to crowns and kingdoms and far-stretching dominions, then it will be a question of righteousness; here it is a question of love. The Father had for Him a gift, purposed before the foundations of the earth were laid, a love gift, that should yield a never-ceasing joy to His heart and a continual glory to His Name, and the time had come for Him to ask for this great gift. Let us hear from His own lips what it was for which He was now asking "The men Thou gavest me out of the world." He was speaking of His disciples, and of us also, for we, having believed on Him through their word, are included in His prayer.

There was no more wonderful moment in His life on earth than this. He had concluded His farewell words to His disciples, and had turned His eyes to heaven and was speaking to His Father, and they were standing by to listen. They heard Him speaking of them, telling out to His Father what His desires about them were, and how dear they were to Him, because they were the Father's choice and chosen gift. They were not the sort of men that a polished society would have sought for, the world would not have considered them worthy of honour, they were not famous for culture, or learning, or intelligence, and we cannot even speak of their nobility of character, but they were the Father's gift, and He was glorified in them. They were the greatest gift His Father could give to Him, they and us, whom He is not ashamed to call His brethren, and He had proved Himself worthy of the gift, for He could say "THOSE THAT THOU GAVEST ME I HAVE KEPT, AND NONE OF THEM IS LOST." The Father had no doubt from the beginning that His Son would treasure the gift He had given to Him, even beyond life itself, and would prove Himself able to keep them in a world of evil and subtle snares, hence worthy to possess them for ever, but this had to be manifested, and it was. He had given them the Father's word, the word that told out how blessed a thing it was to know the Father, and He had kept them in the Father's Name.

How great is the contrast between the first man and the Second Man, between Adam and Christ. God gave to Adam a great gift, the woman to be his helpmeet, but he kept neither God's word nor her nor himself, and when God sought him in the Garden to see how he had treated His word and what he had done with the gift, he excused himself and screened himself by blaming her. "The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she's to blame," and it seems as though he meant "let Thy displeasure fall upon her, for I could not help what has happened." But he could, if he had given her God's word and unfolded to her the goodness of God whose gift she was, then would he have kept her from the wiles of the enemy, and have saved himself from that faithless and despicable cowardice and irreparable fall. But all must stand in contrast to the holy Son of God. He could say, "I have manifested Thy name unto the men that Thou gavest Me," and though Satan desired to have them to sift them, He had kept them while He was with them, had prayed for them on leaving them, and their faith failed not. And not only had He kept them and prayed for them, but He was to bleed for them, for when the time of judgment came, and the storm gathered thickly about Him, He said, "If ye seek Me let these go their way" (chap. 18). Such was His love, and thus had He preserved them from the world, and guarded them from Satan, and saved them from judgment.

He prays for them — not as associating Himself in sympathy with them as encompassed by infirmities and interceding on their behalf in regard to their needs, for that we must go to Hebrews — but as viewing them as His own inalienable possession given to Him by His Father, and remaining still the Father's. For all that the Son has are the Father's, and all that the Father has are His. Consider that great fact for a moment, for it brings out His co-equality with the Father, and the perfection of the oneness of mind and interests and affections that abide between the Father and the Son. And we also are Their joint possession! And as being this certain things were comely and necessary for those disciples and for us, and for these things the Lord lays claim.

THEY WERE TO BE KEPT FROM THE EVIL OF THE WORLD through the Father's name. He was to have control of them, and to keep them in the blessedness of the heavenly family circle from surrounding evil, for the Father's name gathers within its holy and blessed protection the whole circle of His children.

THEY WERE TO BE SANCTIFIED THROUGH THE FATHER'S TRUTH. In a world of evil, yet separate from it, and preserved in practical separation by the wonders of the truth as to the Father and the world of bliss in which His love is known. And so would they be shining lights in the darkness, and a witness to the fact that the Father sent the Son.

THEY ARE TO BE WITH HIM AND TO BEHOLD HIS GLORY. They are, and we are, to behold our Lord as the supreme object of the Father's love, we are to behold the glory given to Him of the Father and to learn by it that He was the object of the Father's love before the earth's foundations, and that He did not forfeit that love when He became a Man upon earth. Nay, that becoming Man He had given the Father fresh causes for loving Him (John 10:17).

How wonderful is the glory that the words of the Lord open up to us here, how surpassing all human thought is our destiny as being the Father's gift to the Son, but it is not all future, for, mark the closing words of the prayer, "And I have declared unto them Thy Name, and will declare it; THAT THE LOVE WHEREWITH THOU HAST LOVED ME MAY BE IN THEM, AND I IN THEM." Let us not hurriedly close the book on reaching the end of the chapter. Does the Father love us with the love wherewith He loves His Son? Is that possible? He says so here. We could not have conceived it and would not have believed it If He had not said it. But on the authority of His own words we can say the Father's love rests on us. Yes,

"The Father's love the source of all,
  Sweeter than all it gives,
Rests on us now without recall,
  And lasts while Jesus lives."

But here is more, the Lord does not ask that the Father's love may be on us, but IN US. His aim is that it might be in our hearts, the enjoyed portion of our souls, that it might fill us and possess us, and that He Himself might be in us.

The world is to know this marvellous fact, for whom the church as the New Jerusalem shall come out of heaven having the glory of God (Rev. 21); when they see God and the Lamb shine forth from that heavenly city — the Father in the Son and the Son in us — then the world will know that the Father sent the Son and that He loves us as He loves His Son. But now we know all this. We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us as understanding, that we know Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. "And this is life eternal, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent." We could not know these things except by the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit alone who gives the capacity to us to enter into these things. But since they are ours to be known and enjoyed now, and since the Spirit has been given to us all, let us go in for them and "LITTLE CHILDREN, KEEP YOURSELVES FROM IDOLS."