Glory, to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
We find ourselves in the midst of Jesus’ farewell discourse as he is in prayer for those things he has done, yet to do, and for those that will carry the gospel message forward after he is crucified, resurrected, and ascended. The disciples together are one group waiting for what their next step may be in their journey with Jesus. Jesus encourages that oneness in his prayer on the night before his arrest.
I have to admit that the gospel of John in the past has been my least favorite of the gospels. Why, you may ask. Because, I like the down and dirty Jesus that is working in and among the people, healing, bringing good news and hope, and is doing so, humbly with little to no fanfare. The gospel of John has the tendency to lift up the glory of Jesus and ultimately his divinity. Not just towards the end of the gospel, but from the very beginning. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God (John 1:1-2). The divinity of Jesus is paraded boldly, so much to the point that Jesus says, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world” (8:23).
Isn’t it amazing how different parts of scripture can affect us differently given where we are at in on our lives or what is going on around us. Personally, I have experienced John’s gospel in a new and profound way this Easter season. The deep theological rifts that run through the gospel have become more alive. This is the Living Word of God, acting in our lives and breathing into us new signs of hope and inspiration. Scripture speaks of times past, roughly 2000 years ago, but it does not stay there. God’s Word comes to us in the here and now!
The problem 2000 years ago was that the World did not know God. Jesus came into this world proclaiming a message that angered people and fell onto deaf ears. Jesus reached out to those that were in need of healing and were struggling. He spoke to the outcasts of society and brought them God’s peace in a time when their voices were not being heard. He also lifted up their voices so that they could be heard by those that were in positions of power. It is was in these actions that he was condemned.
Jesus’ message brought conflict to a world that was already divided by race, class, culture, and sex. The conflict that occurred confirmed that there was still much growth to be had between “the world” and “the Word.” As we look around today we can see that that conflict still exists. There are Christians that complain that the voice of the church does not have the same power that it once did. That the “world” is overtaking the Word of Jesus. As society evolves and changes, we too must be willing to evolve and change as the Word of God is still just as provocative and prophetic today as it was thousands of years ago.
Jesus was well aware of the issues and conflicts that the disciples would encounter as they began to spread the gospel throughout the world. He knew that the world did not know God, yet it was through Jesus that others would come to know God. “I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (17:26). It is this oneness that brings Jesus to pray for the disciples and his desire for all to know that glory that God has given to him, that they can be a part of. It is Jesus’ prayer for oneness that starts to break down the walls of division and bring about a greater unity among people of faith. It is prayer that connects the disciples of Jesus to us in our time today. Here and now!
The prayers that are lifted up in this farewell discourse flow down through time through the Word that is alive and well and breathing today to touch upon our lives. How does that make you feel to know that we are connected to those first disciples through the sharing of the Word and Jesus’ prayer? For Jesus prayed not just for his current disciples. He prayed for those that would come to believe in him through the Word that we read this morning and pour over in our own prayers and devotions. As I pray for each one of you during the week, my prayers stem from those prayers Jesus prayed 2000 years ago.
Jesus’ prayer this morning is for us! IT IS FOR US! How powerful to know that the Words of Jesus’ prayer flow down to us and wash over us in his desire for us to be one with God and to share in the love that he has showered upon all. Like a mother praying for her children when they go out the door until their return, Jesus always has us in his prayers. It is in his prayer for us to be one that we come together communally, not under dogma, but under that own desire in our hearts to be in relationship with others. Our mission is to keep this experience of faith alive in the community, so that we can offer it to a broken and fractured world.
May we embrace Jesus’ prayer for us before he took up the cross and suffered. May we be in unity with him when we are called to bear our own cross.
Let us pray…
Help us accept each other as Christ accepted us; teach us as sister, brother, each person to embrace. Be present, Lord, among us, and bring us to belief. Amen.