John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.”
One of the best gifts, apart from the Holy Spirit, that Jesus left for us, is prayer. Jesus prayed for us to be who He wants us to be before we even accepted Him as our Savior. Jesus knew that as His followers we were going to face trials and tribulations and it would take intercessory prayer for us to stand. In the book of John, Jesus prayed for us to be “kept from the evil one” (17:15). This is a clear sign that the evil one will come for us. His intercessory prayer however assures us He will protect us from the evil one and his schemes. Even while Jesus was facing crucifixion, He interceded for His followers.
Jesus interceded not only with prayer while facing the cross. He also healed and showed compassion for others. For example, in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Peter cut off a soldier’s (Malgas’s) ear, Jesus “touched the man’s ear and healed him” (Luke 22:51). On the road to Golgotha, while many people were following Him, Jesus, beaten and bruised, forgot about His pain, and turned back to the wailing women. He tenderly, yet with a heavy heart for them, addresses them “daughters of Jerusalem to not weep for me but for yourselves and your children” (Luke 23:28).
At the cross hanging between two thieves, Jesus reached out to the repentant thief and invited him into His kingdom (Luke 23:4243). Also, He lovingly found a refuge for His mother, whose “very soul was being pierced by the sword” (Luke 2:35). “When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple He loved, He said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And He said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26 NLT).
Just before He gave up His spirit, Jesus, the Son of God, prayed for those that were mocking and hurling insults at Him. He prayed for those who were crucifying Him for the crime they committed. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NLT).
As we remember and reflect on the journey that Christ took to Calvary, let us do as Jesus did. Let us not just focus on the cross but look around for those that need help. Persecution is a promise for us followers of Christ. However, one secret to overcome it is to turn our attention to the needs of others and intercede for them, just like Jesus did. When we give to others, the Lord releases His grace and mercy into our situations. In the life of Christ, we see that because He did not wallow in self- pity when facing the cross, the Lord sent Him Simon of Cyrene to help Him carry the cross to Calvary. Yes, He was still to be the One that was crucified on it, but His selflessness prompted God to send Him help.
During this pandemic, when our relatives are taken from us, let us not focus only on our pain but also on our neighbors with needs. Our calling is to intercede for others in prayer for comfort and healing. In this season where companies are closing doors and millions are left unemployed, let us cook a meal for our neighbor. In this season where people are giving up on life “let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith” (Galatians 6:9 NLT).
by Mathabo Masilela, VSB Teacher, South Africa