Sunday 28 May 2017

Bible Book:

“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 28 May 2017

Psalm: Psalm 68


We celebrated Jesus' Ascension on 25 May (link) and now are eagerly awaitingPentecost next week. And yet, on this final Sunday of the Easterseason, we continue to look back to what is usually known as Jesus'Farewell Discourse (John 13-17). Chapters 13-16 are addressed tothe disciples and contain both heartfelt reassurance to them andextraordinary teaching, that through love humans might know unitywith God. Perhaps, after Jesus' departure from the Earth, it isimportant to recall what his bodily presence revealed. 

In this passage, "the hour" that Jesus said had come (verse 1)is the time of his Passion and he began to address God in prayer,which continued those themes. Jesus speaks much of the mutuality ofFather and Son - they mutually give and receive glory (verse 1),work (verse 4), words (verse 8) and beloved people (verse 6). Hiswork has been to reveal the Father through himself, a revelationwhich is possible because Father and Son are one, and so to knowthe Son is to know the Father. Now his prayer is that hisdisciples, and indeed all of us, might share in that oneness (verse11).

Often this has been read as a superficial prayer for Christianunity; certainly this is desirable, but Jesus' intention goes fardeeper than this. The life and death of Jesus Christ reveal themost perfect putting together of human and divine that is God'sdesire for each of us. Jesus has just spoken of the vine and thebranches (John 15:1-17), God is living within each one ofus; the only difference is the degree to which we are both aware ofGod within us and enjoying God within us. To know that presenceperfectly is eternal life (verse 3). In Jesus we see that eternallife living among us in a relationship of perfect reciprocity withGod - Jesus receives all things from God and returns all things toGod.

The world of which Jesus speaks (verse 11) is all that wouldencourage us to see ourselves as separate from God, all thatfosters our sense of pride and independence; and we do indeed needprotection from that.

In this passage, on the brink of his crucifixion, Jesus calledupon God to "glorify" him (v. 1); as John's account continues it isclear he is redefining our understanding of 'glory' to be much morein line with the Hebrew sense of the presence of God. Jesusindicates that the true glory of God is revealed in God's onenesswith the broken body of a dying human abandoned to torture. Hereveals a God persistently remaining in union with beloved humanityat its very weakest and worst. That is the real meaning ofglory.

To Ponder

  • God is living within you. What practices do you or could youuse to bring yourself into awareness of your oneness with God?
  • What gives you a sense of pride? In what areas of your life doyou feel you have had success as a result of your ownaccomplishments? How could you surrender these to the ultimatepower of God in you?

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