24 May 2020John 17:1-11
'Now they know that everything you have given me is from you, for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.' (vs. 7-8)
Psalm: Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35
Under pressure, it is ‘first things (or people) first’: Jesus knew that he was under surveillance, that his earthly life was approaching what was likely to be a violent end, so he took time to pray. Having acknowledged before God that his work was completed, Jesus then prays for his friends, his hand-picked companions, for whom, he knew, things were going to be extraordinarily difficult. Jesus was clear that his friends had received from him everything his Father had given to him; they had heard the good news and they knew its source and inspiration. Jesus had been captive to the message and mission given by his Father, and, in turn, his disciples had been ‘caught’ by this same message and mission. But Jesus knew that, under pressure, they might be vulnerable, so his prayer was that they might be protected (verse 11). In later verses, he will pray for those who will believe through their message – for us (verse 20).
Eleanor Roosevelt once said that "A woman is like a tea bag – you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." But it is not always like that – sometimes we collapse under pressure and bitterly regret it later. There have been times in my own life when, looking back, I recognise that I have been strong, I have resisted criticism and opposition; there have been other times when I have capitulated and given in against my own better judgement. None of us knows how we will be in ‘hot water’ until it happens. We are held by, captive to, the gospel, but living in that ‘captivity’ is not guaranteed easy! Jesus prayed for his friends – we need the prayers of our friends and we need to pray for them.
- What does it mean to you to be ‘captive to the gospel'? Are there parts of the good news that you would prefer to ignore?
- Reflect on a time when you became captive to something else and lived to regret it?