One single thing is requested. This is that the father actually will “keep them in” the “name” of the father which has been given also to Jesus. The name of a person identifies and encompasses all that person is, in every way. Jesus’ crucial desire is that the father keeps these followers in that same “name.” Those who are kept in that name by the father will have that name-likeness of the father. They are to be “one” with father and son in character and purpose.
“When I was with them, I myself kept them in your name, that you have given to me, and I safeguarded and not one of them has been destroyed except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture may be fulfilled. In fact right now I come to you, and I speak these things in the world in order that they may have that joy of mine fulfilled in themselves.”
Speaking still with his father Jesus twice used the verb “to fulfill”. In the first, the self-destruction of the seeming disciple Judas is recalled. At one and the same time, the ancient Scriptures of Israel (the Bible’s Old Testament) were fulfilled. In the second, Jesus, submitting to his own destruction to bless others, prays that his own joy will be fulfilled in those who followed him.
Can there be “joy” for Jesus at his Gethsemane, at his imminent criminal’s cross? It seems that his “joy” is that he has “kept them” in his name (the name of his father) in the midst of the self-destruction in the world. The “joy” which he asks to be “fulfilled” in them is that same joy of keeping and safeguarding others from self-destruction by self-sacrificial love towards those others.
“I myself have given them your word, and the world hated them, because they are not from the world just as I myself am not from the world. I ask not that you may take them out of the world, but that you may keep them from the evil one. They are not from the world, just as I myself am not from the world.”
Yes, this amazing man, Jesus, has, in every possible way, communicated the “word” of the father to his followers. Just as the world hated him for his disclosures, the world will hate them. But they are to stay in that world which hates them – and even die at the hands of those who hate them. They are truly to follow Jesus in order to make disciples of Jesus.