John 17:17 is perhaps one of the best illustrations of a standout verse. It appears amongst prayers that Jesus is offering in his last hours. Jesus opens the prayers by first recognising that his mission is near complete:
“… Father, the hour has come”
Jesus then prays that he come into glory, prays for his disciples and then prayers for all believers.
In verse 17, the standout verse arises:
“Sanctify them [disciples of Jesus] by the truth; your word is truth.”
As best understood in context of verses 17-19:
“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.”
The standout element of verse 17 is this: Christ Jesus died upon the cross so that his followers may enter into priesthood of the new covenant. The truth would be written on their hearts and they would share this truth, as priests of Christ’s nation, in the world. They would fulfil their role in the world to the manner that Christ had modelled for them. Christ, in obedience to, and in fulfilment of God’s plan, identifies that Calvary was essential to bring the sanctification to himself and to his people. For there to be priests, there must be a chief priest.
It is a standout in that nowhere else do the Gospels make it clear that the cross serves such purpose. To be sure, the Gospels are rich in evidence that the cross brings salvation yet nowhere else do they treat the matter of sanctification to priesthood with such clarity.
So, the cross brings salvation and brings sanctification to priesthood.
Next time you gaze upon the cross think of the abundance that flows from Christ’s sacrifice! What a shame that some churches willingly set out to remove crosses!