Sanctify (John 17:17)

Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.

John 17:17

This morning’s verse comes from the section of John sometimes called Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. It is a chapter dedicated to Jesus praying for the Father to glorify Him; for the disciples to be sanctified and unified and glorified; for those who were there and we who were yet to come to be one as the Father and Son are One. It is a prayer in which every phrase could be studied and scrutinized and pondered.

I take this morning’s verse as both encouragement and challenge.

The verse is an encouragement to continue in the practice of daily Bible reading and morning-by-morning devotion. It is an encouragement that Jesus’ prayer for me is that the Word would sanctify me; set me apart; make me different. It is an encouragement also to look for intimacy with God. The verse is, in many modern translations, rendered with Your instead of Thy. This does us a grave disservice. Modern English language has lost what many other languages still have: a formal and an informal second-person pronoun. French has tu and vous. Spanish has tu and usted. Chinese has ni and nin (I am not even going to try to figure out how to produce the characters or the tonality). Jesus uses the familiar form of your and thy is appropriate. It sounds stilted and overly formal to modern ears, but only because we have lost the delineation between the formal and the familiar. To those who take the time to understand, Jesus’ use of thy implies an informality; a familiarity with the Father that we are also called to as believers and this verse encourages me to press in to the place where that familiarity comes from actually being that familiar with my God.

The verse is a challenge to read my Bible more. I have this devotional time five days a week. But there are two more days in each week in which I do not have this time. I read my Bible every morning and contemplate the verse or verses that stand out to me, but I do not consistently meditate on these things throughout the day. I would be better served if I did. Jesus’ use of the familiar calls me to become more familiar with the Father so that I, too, am comfortable coming informally into His presence.

Let me be encouraged in those things that are well: daily reading and pressing in to know my God better. Let me be challenged to do still more; to go further up and further in.

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