Download the Worship Folder & Announcements for May 15-16
Fill out a card to record your family’s online worship attendance
For supporting the ministry of the Gospel at Salem
Worship Series: Connected
Worship Theme: Connected and Protected
- CW 171 A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing
- CW 411 What a Friend We Have in Jesus
- CW 318 Sent Forth by God’s Blessing
Message: Connected and Protected
Pastor Jon Brohn
For each of the Sundays after Easter we’ve been talking about connections. We are connected to the Scriptures. Without Jesus, we’ve got nothing, but our nothing plus Jesus’ words and promises mean we have everything! We are connected to Jesus’ peace, and when we have that, we have true refreshment. We are connected to the Good Shepherd, and thanks to the incredible words of Psalm 23 we understand that connection even better. We are connected to the Vine, and thanks to that connection we can bloom beautifully no matter what happens in our lives. We are connected by love. So, when we have a problem that we share with each other, it’s already half-solved. When Jesus is in the equation, he solves it completely!
Connections play an important role in our daily lives. We find them everywhere. My car is making a funny sound, and my regular car place says it’s nothing. Can you help me? Sure—I take my car to... When my back was bad, we called my sister-in-law. She’s a nurse at Mayo in Rochester. We knew we’d get good advice from her. Connections can mean the difference between success and failure, sometimes even life and death!
The disciples had a connection that they desperately needed. They didn’t see it, but Jesus did. Here in John 17 it’s still Thursday night. Jesus had been trying to teach his disciples some key truths before soldiers ripped him away. He had talked about preparing a place for them. He talked of love, and sorrow, and peace. Now Jesus turned his attention away from his friends. He needed to talk to his Father. Jesus didn’t hesitate. He didn’t go find a quiet place away from his disciples. He prayed in front of them, “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you” (John 17:11 NIV).
Maybe you’ve had this conversation. I know I have. Someone shares something with me—could be great news, could be a problem, anything. At the end of the conversation I offer encouragement, followed by, “I’ll pray for you.” I’ve been working on that, and trying to pray right then, whether it’s on the phone or in person. It’s such a beautiful thing! Jesus never missed an opportunity. He’s praying for his disciples, and he has some specific reasons why.
First, Jesus was leaving. In just a few hours, soldiers would arrest him and imprison him. The Sanhedrin would hold an illegal trial and convict him. He would stand before the Roman governor Pilate, and even though Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, believed it, he sentenced him to crucifixion. Jesus would be leaving soon, dying soon.
Jesus came back from the dead, but he only stayed with his friends for 40 more days. Then, he would return to the Father. Literally. While the disciples watched, “[Jesus] was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight” (Acts 1:9 NIV). Jesus left, and his disciples wouldn’t see him any more. He didn’t want them to feel abandoned, so he prayed for them.
Jesus also prayed for them because he knew the trouble on the horizon would not leave the disciples untouched. “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world” (John 17:14 NIV). The world made it obvious that it hated all of Jesus’ followers. The Jewish leaders arrested them for preaching. King Herod will begin killing the apostles. The Romans refused to tolerate them and declared Christianity “illegal.” Eventually, the apostles would meet the same painful end Jesus did. John was the only one spared. He died a natural death, but in exile because of his love for Jesus.
Jesus prayed for them because of another deadly enemy. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15 NIV). Satan had already played one of his trump cards. Judas had sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver. Satan rubbed his hands with glee at Peter’s bold statement, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” (Matthew 26:35 NIV). Then he danced in victory when Peter said for the third time, “I don’t know the man!” (Matthew 26:74 NIV). Satan clapped his hands as the soldiers wielded their weapons and torches, and all the disciples fled in terror. Jesus had to pray for them, because he knew everything they would face on that dark, doleful night.
The disciples needed that prayer connection. So do we! Just like the disciples, we don’t get to see Jesus with our eyes. He left, and he knows that we often feel abandoned. He says he’s with us always, but it doesn’t feel like it. The world wants us to believe that Jesus has abandoned us, and that the message of free grace and forgiveness is complete and utter foolishness. It mocks God’s plan of creation, twists his gift of marriage, and bases decision-making on feeling and emotion instead of God’s truth.
Jesus also prays for us because he knows how powerful the evil one really is. Peter cautioned, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV). Paul warned, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14 NIV). The evil one has only one goal in mind—to destroy your faith and snatch eternal life from your grasp. He will do whatever it takes, whether that’s arriving to tear you to pieces after a bad choice, or to trick you into that same bad choice because he looks and sounds so friendly and fun. Jesus doesn’t just say, “I’ll pray for you.” He prays, and prays hard!
Jesus is able to do more than talk to his Father about problems. He offers real, powerful protection. “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. 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” (John 17:11–12 NIV). Jesus protected them. As I studied this section, I had to ask myself, “When did Jesus protect them?”
Jesus protected them from the crowds that tried to kill him. When the people of his hometown tried to throw him off a cliff, Jesus walked through them untouched. His disciples remained safe, and the crowd did not threaten them. (Luke 4:28-30)
Throughout his ministry, Jesus healed the sick and suffering. He offered healing to Peter’s mother-in-law, protecting her from the fever that confined her to her bed (Matthew 8:14-15).
Jesus saved them from wind and waves with a command. “Quiet! Be Still!” He stretched out his hand to pull Peter out of the water, saving him from drowning (Matthew 8:23-27; Matthew 14:29-30)
Jesus protected them when they went out, 2 by 2, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. He told them, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves” (Matthew 10:16 NIV). One day they too would be arrested and tried in court for preaching the good news about Jesus. They would be whipped and persecuted and hated. When they stood on trial, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would give them the right words to say. The Spirit would comfort and counsel them in the right way to go.
Finally, Jesus promised that he would personally protect them as they went out to make disciples of all nations. He said, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NIV).
That’s not all. Jesus has a powerful weapon which he wields to protect them, and to protect us. He said, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17 NIV). There’s one of those big Bible words. We sometimes use it but might not know what it means. The Greek word literally means “make holy.” When our heavenly Father makes us holy through his Word, we are protected from the world and its attacks. We are safe from the devil’s insidious influence. Do Jesus’ words sound familiar? I hope so. I use them almost every time I get to share God’s Word with you. Before we begin I pray these words for you and me. We need Jesus’ words to act as our help and our shield at the very beginning of the message. Why? The evil one is hard at work right now, trying to block the Word from getting through. Is it easy to concentrate all the way through this message? Sometimes. Sometimes not. There’s something that Jesus has for each of us today, and the devil will do whatever he can to keep you from hearing it. Jesus, sanctify us, make us holy, protect us with the truth, your Word is truth!
Our sinful nature is there too. It’s Saturday night. It’s been a long day. We’ve been busy working on projects around the house, carting the kids to ball games and birthday parties. We’re tired. Jesus told his disciples, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 NIV). We want to be here. We’ve committed to hear what Jesus has for us tonight, but it’s hard. The eyes droop. The breathing deepens. The head drops and bounces back up. It’s Sunday morning. We had so much fun on Saturday—using the boat, putting in the dock, gathering wood for the campfire, digging in the garden, planting some flowers, going out with friends, watching our favorite movie. Sunday morning comes too soon. I have to be honest—the one day a week right now I am sleeping past 5:30 am is, drum-roll please, Sunday morning! Jesus, sanctify us, make us holy, protect us with the truth, your Word is truth!
That Word of truth is exactly what we need to fill up for the week. I like to think of our weekly time together as a visit to Pizza Ranch. When I walk into Pizza Ranch, the first thing I notice is the music. It’s Christian songs, like listening to KTIS. In fact, Pizza Ranch’s mission statement is “to glorify God by positively impacting the world.” The next thing I see is food. Lots of it! Pizza, and chicken, and salad, and waffle fries and chicken fingers and potato wedges and soup and, well, you get the idea. Every time I go, I can eat something different, or, exactly the same thing. It always fills up my stomach and I’m satisfied. The last thing I notice is people. All kinds of people, and they’re all there for the same reasons—to eat good food and enjoy a good time together.
What happens when we walk into church? Hopefully you notice the music—it’s all focused on Jesus and the theme for the week. There’s plenty for our souls to eat. Jesus has all kinds of wonderful things to sample on every single week. Sometimes we find something new and different, some weeks we might enjoy the same thing we did last time. Either way, it fills us up in a way Pizza Ranch never could. And the people—so many of us, all here for the same reasons. We’re here to fill up on the Word of Truth and to enjoy being together as fellow believers. What a blessing! Through the Word of Truth we are connected, protected, and well-fed every single week! Amen.