Sunday

“Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one” (v. 11)

John 17:1-11 Sunday 1 June 2014


Background

This passage comes before the Easter narrative. Jesus has beencelebrating the last supper (Mark14:12-25) and warning his disciples (without giving anydetails) of what is to come. Whilst it is spoken this side of thecrucifixion, the message is clearly for the other side of it. Herehe prays for his disciples in terms reminiscent of the Lord'sPrayer, and for their changing role.

The disciples have recognised Jesus as God, but they still donot know what is going to happen to Jesus, nor what is going tohappen to them. Jesus does not mention his death, resurrection orthe coming of the Holy Spirit. But through this prayer, as well aswhat he has been saying to his disciples, they must realise thatsomething is going to change - indeed, both John and the otherGospel writers make it clear Jesus had forewarned them about bothhis death and resurrection.

Jesus says he is "no longer in the world" (v. 11), but hisdisciples will still be in the world. What does this mean to hisdisciples and to us today? How are we meant to be in the world, butpart of a bigger story which means we are not of the world but ofGod?

One clue to answering this appears a few chapters earlier (John14:6-18), where Jesus talks of not leaving the disciples"orphaned" (John 14:18) and of asking God to send themanother "Advocate" (John 14:16) who will be with them forever.Jesus also, of course, spent time with them between hisresurrection and ascension. But they were clearly to have a newrole after the events of Easter, one for which they neededprotection and a strong sense of unity.

If we see Jesus' resurrection finally vindicating the 'kingdom'which he had come to announce - a way of being which, as he was totell Pilate (John 18:36), was not rooted in the values of thisworld but which challenges those values - we get a picture of themission his disciples, including his followers today, were toundertake: to "strive first for the kingdom of God and hisrighteousness" (Matthew 6:33).


To Ponder

  • How do you think the disciples felt hearing Jesus praying forthem in this way?
  • What does it mean to be in the world, but not of theworld?
  • Following Jesus and being a disciple can be difficult and evendangerous. What challenges have you faced?

 

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