Seventh Sunday of Easter 20.5.12 John 17.6-19

12 05 2012

Looking Up, Looking Forward

On this Sunday – sandwiched between Ascension (going up) and Pentecost (coming down) – the Gospel reading is always part of John chapter 17.  It is Jesus’ extended prayer which he says immediately before his passion begins. It is often called his ‘high-priestly prayer’ and  as soon as it ends Jesus sets out for the garden where he will be met by Judas together with soldiers and police.

John 17.6-19

Jesus looked up to heaven and prayed, ‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8for 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. 9I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11And 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. 12While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Reflections and Questions

‘I  am asking on their behalf’ v 9 This is Jesus in prayer for others.  He is interceding for his disciples and by implication for us.

How do you understand the intercession that is offered for us by Christ? How do you understand the intercession that we offer for others?  Is there an opportunity to talk about the seriousness of intercession here?

‘I am not asking on behalf of the world.’ v 9. Oh dear. This does not seem right. But there it is in black and white. There is a limit to the reach of Jesus’ prayer tonight. 

How do you square this with our habit of praying for ‘the world’?

‘the one destined to be lost’ v12  Just to be clear – this is Judas.  We don’t talk about Judas much – maybe not enough.  Perhaps this is an opportunity.

What do you have to say about Judas?  Was there something wrong with him from the start? Did the money corrupt him? Is he just being used as a pawn in God’s chess game (an accusation which Judas makes in Jesus Christ Superstar: ‘you have used me!’  see )

‘Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth’ v17 

Holiness and truth are seen as one here, and the word of God is connected with both.

How do you see holiness and truth connected? Which do you prioritize in your personal pilgrimage through life?