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The Sanctification of the Son and His People

Rev. Michael Calvert, Ph.D., December 18, 2016
Part of the Advent 2016 series.

On this coming Lord’s Day, the fourth Sunday of Advent, we will return to our Lord’s high-priestly prayer in John 17 to discover more about our divine Savior who came to Bethlehem in order to redeem us from sin’s curse. And as we have traveled through these beloved words that were prayed out loud by Jesus in the hearing of the Disciples, we have learned so much about Him. It is true that this is far more than a prayer. For it is also a deliberate self-revelation of our Lord, intentionally designed to prepare the Disciples for their mission to the world. By listening in amazement as Jesus prayed for them, they were made ready for all that would transpire in the hours and years ahead of them. Here are the truths they desperately needed to embrace as they went from this blessed time of communion with Jesus into a hostile world that would soon crucify the Son of God. This Sunday morning, we will be looking at just three lines from this prayer that we find in verses 17-19.

As you read these sacred words, you may notice that there is a key term that Jesus uses three times. In the English Standard Version, the word is rendered “sanctify” twice and “consecrate” once. And this is certainly the theme of this small section of the great prayer. As Jesus makes intercession before the Farther, He now speaks of sanctification, both His sanctification and the Disciples’ sanctification. And we also perceive that these lines reach a crescendo in verse 19 when Jesus declares, “for their sake I consecrate myself . . . .”

Of course, we want to know what this means. What is implied by this important word “sanctify,” and what does it mean that Jesus, in the midst of His prayer, announces His sanctification to the Father just as He is about to go away to be crucified? And what does it mean that He also prays for the sanctification of the Disciples, and, by extension, our sanctification?

I believe there is a rich and comforting Christmas message to be discovered here! Let us pray that we will find it, and by faith enter into the true joy of this most wonderful season.