Sunday

2 June 2019

John 17:20-26

'The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one ...' (v. 22)

Psalm: Psalm 97

Background

This week, running from today, the Sunday in Ascensiontide, up to the eve of Pentecost, takes us on an extensive Biblical tour. We shall visit three books of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus and Numbers), John’s Gospel and the Epistle to the Romans. God’s spirit figures in these passages, saving us from thinking that the Holy Spirit wasn’t at work until Pentecost. (There are, of course, many other pre-Pentecost appearances of the Holy Spirit, notably including the baptism of Jesus.)

We shall also explore the “Gifts and Work of the Holy Spirit” section of Singing the Faith (StF), and look at a range of Psalms, praise, lament and supplication.

Today’s reading, John 17:20-26, concludes the great prayer of Jesus which occupies the whole chapter. Anticipating the exaltation of Jesus the Christ to be narrated in chapters 18-20, and following the farewell discourses, Jesus “reports to the Father” (to borrow Kenneth Grayston’s characterisation of chapter 17) and sets out the framework for his followers’ continuation of God’s work in Christ.

The emphasis is on unity: the Son’s unity with the Father, and the unity of the Christian community (present and future) in Christ, and in the glory of God (v. 22). It is a unity, not of identity, but of love and action.

Interestingly, the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in this passage, but appears, post-resurrection (see Wednesday’s John reading).

For us, one of the most significant features of the prayer is the way its scope extends to future generations.

Singing the Faith 369 explores the concept of baptism in the Spirit, and a wide range of Christian, godly virtues which flow from it.

Psalm 97 is a lovely, straightforward hymn of praise.

 

To Ponder:

  • Does it matter that the Holy Spirit is not explicitly mentioned in this passage?
  • What lessons does the kind of unity set out here have for current ecumenical relationships and issues?

Bible notes author

The Revd Alan Bolton

The Revd Alan Bolton is a Methodist minister serving in the Connexional Team with responsibility for the Church's complaints and discipline process. He is also a musician and was a member of the group producing new music resources for Methodist worship.

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