Each year our church honors high school and college graduates. Imagine if our Lord Jesus Christ himself were here to address the graduates. In today’s text we find Jesus commenting on graduates, especially those who belong to him.
We know from the four Gospels that Jesus recruited people to follow him, specifically the twelve disciples. For three years, Jesus trained his disciples intensively by public and private teachings, tutoring, lecturing, seminars, work projects, and internships. Sometimes Jesus taught on a one-to-one basis, sometimes his teaching involved all twelve disciples ,and sometimes it involved hundreds of people or more, such as his Sermon on the Mount. Others besides the Twelve followed Jesus, among them were Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and Nicodemus. Some of Jesus’ disciples quit when they began to understand that the hardships of discipleship include suffering and dying.
The Lord Jesus Christ knew that he would die and leave the disciples by themselves. He prepared them to carry on his ministry. It was graduation time for the disciples. A few hours before the authorities arrested him, Jesus prayed to God: “I ask you to protect them from the evil one.”
Who is the evil one? The evil one is the devil. The evil one is Satan, also known as Lucifer, the fallen angel who fights against God and does everything to separate the faithful people from God. Jesus prayed that God would protect his followers from Satan. If you are a faithful follower of our Lord Jesus Christ, he is praying to God to protect you from the evil one.
In our American society, graduating from high school means one can do many things legally. To graduate from college means you have more education and a bit more experience to be productive in life. Whether you just graduated from high school or college, you are now an adult and have great opportunities and responsibilities.
Perhaps you have had graduation parties and celebrations. Watching all the festivities is a strange, invisible, silent figure—the evil one. He is watching you just as he watched the Lord Jesus Christ and the disciples at the Last Supper and later at the Mount of Olives as Jesus prayed. The evil one, Satan, will do all in his power to separate you from God’s presence and love.
The evil one will subtly convince you to ignore the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:8-21).
Have you noticed that many young people stop coming to worship God on Sundays once they graduate from high school? They forget or ignore the commandment about keeping the Sabbath holy.
The evil one will work hard to convince you that your time, energy, thoughts, affection, and money should go to ungodly activities and things. If you fall for this, then you will break the commandment of worshiping only God and no other god.
The evil one will work hard to set you against your parents so you will not honor them. I was at a store recently and I heard a young child screaming at his mother because he could not get his way. I thought, in a few more years this boy will be cursing his parents to their faces, perhaps even using God’s name in vain; and when he does, the evil one will rejoice. Remember the commandment of honoring your parents.
The evil one will work hard to get you to desire things you really do not need, things that keep you from providing for yourself and your family once you have your own family. That type of want is coveting, or desiring material things that will take you away from God. A man came to church and asked for money to pay the rent for his apartment. When I asked him for identification, he could not produce it. I turned him down and he left angry. The church secretary noticed he was wearing a very expensive shirt and expensive boots. Later I learned that the owner of the apartment was the man’s girlfriend. He had lied to me. Desiring the wrong things can quickly separate you from God.
The evil one will work hard to get you to lie to your coworkers, friends, family, and even to yourself. If you bear false witness against your neighbor, you separate yourself from God.
The evil one will work hard to get you to kill someone. You may never kill anyone physically, but you can kill someone emotionally and spiritually. I went to see a dying man. As I approached his hospital room, I saw his ex-wife with her daughter. The wife was sobbing. I asked what was wrong. Her daughter said, “Dad won’t see her.” When I arrived at the man’s room, the door had a handwritten sign stating that his ex-wife could not enter. She suffered an emotional death. Instead of seeking forgiveness and reconciliation, that man died an angry, bitter death.
I began by saying the Lord Jesus Christ prayed to God to protect his followers from the evil one. If you are faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, then he will pray to God, that God protect you from the evil one. If you follow the Lord Jesus Christ faithfully, God will bless you greatly and wonderfully.
How can you be a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus Christ? First, you can be a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus Christ by loving God and loving your neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40). Second, you can be a faithful follower of the Lord Jesus Christ by keeping your membership vows to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his body, the church (Ephesians 4:1-16), by coming frequently to worship, studying the word of God, praying constantly, serving God, and supporting the church with your generous offerings. If you are faithful then you can have assurance that the Lord Jesus Christ is praying to God to protect you from the evil one.
The evil one will attack you in many ways: temptations, illness, loss of a job, loss of friends, accidents, bad feelings, and moral confusion to name a few. When those things happen, keep your faith. Remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of your faith. Remember that the Lord Jesus Christ loves you. Remember that the Lord Jesus Christ died and was resurrected to give you new life. Remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is praying that no matter how bad things get, if you are faithful, God will protect you from the evil one.