Called and Kept

Jasmine writing on how we can find hope and endurance in our faith because of the fact that Jesus, our great High Priest, has prayed for us:
Have you ever considered the fact that Jesus has prayed for you?

Yep—he prayed for you. He chose you before he even set foot in this world; in fact, he knew your name and set his heart on you before the earth was even formed. This Jesus, the one through whom and for whom the world was created, the one who stepped into the world and bore the all its sins, the one who you call Lord and Savior—this Jesus did not stop at dying for you, but prayed for you. And what did he pray for? That you would know him, and that you would be kept in him so that you might know him forever.

This truth hit me hard about a year ago. I can’t quite explain to you why, but I found myself questioning my position with Christ: Am I really saved? Am I like a seed that was sown into the ground, receiving the gospel with joy, but only later to be swept away by the world? Am I a true child of God? Will my faith prove itself to be true in the end? I was burdened with these questions all day and all night. I feared that I may not actually be able to make it to the end, that maybe I wasn’t one of those who would be “kept” through this life and revealed as a true daughter of the King in the end.

During this season, I also found myself teaching the Word to others more than I ever had before. I was learning more about how to read and relay God’s Word to others in order for them to be more sure about their standing with Christ, so that they could know and love and glorify him more. It was frustrating, to say the least. There I was, trying to help others see that they were called and kept, while I was starting to question whether I was even kept.

What’s funny is that it was through my study of the Word, that often felt burdensome and confusing, God showed up. He met my anxieties with the security of his promises.

Enter in John 17. I was in a class where I was learning how to preach the Word, and I landed on John 17. In short, this chapter is Jesus’ High Priestly prayer, where he prays first for himself, second for his disciples, and last for those who will come after them—future disciples (that’s us).

Before I explain how God used this to confirm to my conscience that I was indeed “kept,” we have to go back to the role of the high priest as found in the Old Testament. It stems all the way back to Genesis when God set Aaron as the high priest. Aaron’s job was to intercede on behalf of God to God’s people; the high priest was supposed to be the “middle man,” speaking to the people for God and speaking to God for the people. Humankind has been sinful since Adam, unable to approach a high and holy God on their own, and God has had a solution since the beginning: first, the high priests of Israel, and ultimately, the Great High Priest Jesus. The high priesthood was designed to point to Jesus. All high priests failed in the end to do their job perfectly, and Jesus was the only one who could perfectly intercede between God and man.

So, John 17. In this passage we find Jesus, fully God and fully man, interceding for himself, for his disciples, and for us—his future disciples. And we know that since he is God, and because he always prays to the Father according to the Father’s will, whatever he prays will be fulfilled. And here we have him praying that his work might be completed and that he might be glorified in order for the Father to be glorified. He asks God to secure his work on earth, for people to see Jesus and know God through him, thus glorifying both the Father and the Son. And we know that this came true because Jesus, the sinless man and holy God, prayed it. This was God’s will, and Jesus asked for it.

Then we have the disciples. He asks that they may be kept in Jesus’ name, secure in community and secure in Christ. He prays for God to guard them until the end, ensuring their legal standing as blameless children that Christ was about to purchase on the cross.

And then he prays for us. He prays the same thing he prayed for his disciples—that we would be unified in love, that we would be unified in Christ, and that we would be secure in the love that Jesus would lavish upon us through his Spirit, the love that would keep us secure until the day we get to stand before him made perfect by his love.

Jesus is the one ordained by God to bear our sins and intercede for us. Jesus stands before God, knowing him fully, and intercedes for us that we might know God as revealed through Jesus. He made God known through himself, and offered Himself as a final sacrifice, taking all of our sins—past, present and future—upon his shoulders once and for all. He consecrates himself, setting himself apart and glorifying God by his death on a cross for sinful people. He purchases sinners by his death on a cross, making a way for them to be kept forever. He defeated death, being raised from the dead, confirming his authority over all things and all people. The one who has full authority has ascended to the right hand of the Father, continuing to keep what is his.

The model of Jesus High Priestly prayer is no accident. God’s plan for all of eternity has been to keep His people. He does this by interceding for us and purchasing us. Jesus prayed for us and payed for us, and the result is astounding: he secures our position as children of God and enables us to know our Father—not just today, not just tomorrow, but forever.

I still feel weighed down by anxieties and worries today, but the surety of Jesus’ work gives me peace. My heart sometimes rocks within me, tossed around by fear and feelings of inadequacy. But I know that the One whom I trust is steadfast, like a Rock in the middle of my anxious storm. He prayed for me, he prayed for you, for people who have anxieties and doubts and fears. He prayed for helpless ones who have no power to secure their own salvation. He prayed for us to be kept safe for his glory, to be saved and secured in his name until the end. And we know that whatever the Holy High Priest prays will come to pass.

I can confess that my pursuit of the Lord has been better in times past. But I am more sure today than I was a year ago that Jesus’ pursuit of me is exactly the same, and in some ways even clearer. I can hear him saying, “I have called you.” I can hear him saying, “I have saved you.” I can hear him saying, “I will keep you.”

He’s saying the same to you now. No matter where you find yourself, whether it’s in a storm, or in a season of still waters, he remains fixed in his decision to hold you as his own. His Spirit testifies to us that we are children, and that we will one day fully inherit everything Jesus has purchased for us. We get life forever; we get Jesus forever.

I encourage you to read this passage when you start to question who you are and whose you are. I have no doubt that these words are as true for you as they are for me; if you have been called by Christ, you will surely be kept by him. We are kept by him, and we are kept for his glory.

The One who has overcome the world has prayed for God to keep His people. By this we know we will be kept, by this we know we will make it to the end until we see Jesus face to face. Jesus prayed for us to be kept, and God will surely keep us forever.

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