Read John 17:9-19
Jesus prays that the Father will “Sanctify them (His disciples and all who follow in their footsteps) by the Truth; Your Word is Truth.” To sanctify something is to set it apart for holy purposes. The thing sanctified then can never be used for anything else. Holy water cannot be used to wash the dishes. Consecrated wine cannot be used for the social gathering after church. A clergyman’s stole cannot be used as a winter muffler. Jesus is praying to the Father to set us apart for His purposes, for His Kingdom work. And we are to be sanctified by the Truth. Jesus is the Truth. Thy Word is Truth. Jesus is the Living Word—the Word of Truth!
In His high priestly prayer, Jesus tells the Father that He is not praying that the Father would take us out of the world, but that He would protect us from the evil one. We are to be in the world, but by God’s sanctification, His setting us apart, we are to live differently from those who are of the world. Jesus says, “I have given them your Word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world…” That is a hard place for us to be. We are set apart, sanctified, but that puts us at immediate odds with others with whom we live and work. And they hate us for it.
But our separateness from those around us is not to be an occasion for judgment. Jesus prayed that we may be set apart for Him, that we may be used by Him for the furthering of His Kingdom, bringing those who do not know Him to the knowledge and love of Him. For He says to the Father, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” Jesus was sent into the world that the world might be saved through Him. And now He is asking the Father to sanctify us that His redeeming work may continue to be carried out through us—we who are set apart for Him.