Not Removal, But Safety
John 17:15
I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil.


1. To many this will seem a superfluous statement. There must be many to whom it will seem a marvelous thing that any one should want to go out of the world at all. If praying to God would make it so, the young, the strong, the prosperous, the ambitious, would pray a dozen times a day that they might stay in the world. Every day thousands are going out of the world who, if they could get their own way, would stay in it. Probably the disciples themselves rather wondered at Jesus suggesting departure from the world as desirable. They were mostly young men, or men in their early prime. And, indeed, what so many wish is just what Jesus wishes himself. Every human being was manifestly intended to live out his days and do his work before he departs. That the old only should die is in the very order of nature, just like the falling of the leaves in the autumn and the setting of the sun at eventide.

2. The thought expressed was a very natural one to come into the heart of Jesus at this particular moment. He foresaw the pain and strain and trial his friends would have to pass through. He foresaw the imprisonments, the scourgings, the stonings. The disciples would understand the reference better afterwards than at the moment it was made. Jesus himself was on the point of being taken out of the world. The significance of the particular expression ought to be carefully noted. It is not merely a periphrasis for death. It indicates the glorious and liberating experience through which Jesus himself was about to pass. And if there had been nothing to consider but their personal comfort, then the friends and followers of Jesus might have been taken out of the world along with him. But they had their work still to do. The followers of Jesus had to stay just because he was taken. The friends of Jesus had to suffer all the more just because his sufferings were at an end. And so the utterance of Jesus seems to say, "I should like to take you with me, but it is impossible. I should like to spare you all you will have to go through; but when you are going through it, remember how I thought about you in my prayer."

II. SAFETY IN THE WOULD. Jesus desires that his Father would keep his followers from the evil. He teaches us to pray the same prayer ourselves. Indeed, if we do not pray the prayer ourselves, what can the prayer of Jesus be expected to avail? The carefulness of Jesus will only save us if we are careful too. Of course it is spiritual safety, integrity, and purity of heart Jesus is mostly thinking of. As to physical pain, Jesus himself had to pass through the severest of it; and the disciple must be as his Master, the servant as his Lord. - Y.

Parallel Verses
KJV: I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

WEB: I pray not that you would take them from the world, but that you would keep them from the evil one.

Mutual Necessity
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