18 May 2010

John 17:1-11

"And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one." (v.11)


In his own mind Jesus has already moved on - beyond his trials, beyond his struggle up the Via Dolorosa (the path that Jesus was ordered to drag his cross along) and beyond his crucifixion on the hill named Golgotha.

So he prays for his disciples, entrusting them into God's care. Jesus is going away out of the world of jealousy, hatred and violence, yet he is very sensitive to the fact that his disciples will remain very much 'in this world' - without his presence and guidance and under pressure from the very same people who have abused him. They will be in need of a lot of protection.

The use of the word 'world' may be a little confusing to modern ears. In John's Gospel 'world' doesn't refer to the physical universe in which all humankind lives. Instead, it refers to all that has rebelled against God and organised itself to live alienated from God's will. Jesus' coming into that world has inaugurated a new reality conforming to God's will and purposes. The disciples are part of this new order. So Jesus prays that they may be spared from being pulled back into the world of wickedness. And to withstand the wiles of this 'world' they will need to stick together.

To Ponder

To what extent do you feel that Christians, in our times, live in or between two worlds?

Some people say that they do not need to attend church but can be Christians in their own homes. To what extent do you feel the need for a community to support you in your life of faith?

Bible notes author

The Revd Jennifer Potter

The Revd Jennifer Potter is a Methodist minister at Wesley's Chapel, City Road, London. Prior to being appointed to serve there she worked in the Connexional Team from 1996-2002 as the secretary for international affairs.