Malankara World Journal
Theme: Prayer, High Priestly Prayer of Jesus, Feeding 5000
Volume 7 No. 424 July 7, 2017
III. Featured Articles: High Priestly Prayer of Jesus
by Mark A. CopelandGospel: John 17:1-26 INTRODUCTION 1. "Some brethren pray by the yard; but true prayer is measured by weight, and not by length." - Charles Spurgeon 2. This statement is true, for the greatest prayer ever prayed is recorded in Jn 17... a. It takes about six minutes to reverently read it aloud
b. There may not be much length, but there is certainly a great depth and weight! 3. Though there are approximately 650 prayers recorded in the Bible... a. Not one of them can match our Lord's "High Priestly Prayer" in Jn 17
b. Nor can any prayer recorded outside the Bible [What is it about this prayer that makes it so great? At least four reasons can be given. From Jn 17:1 we learn it is great because of...] I. THE PERSON WHO OFFERED THE PRAYER A. JESUS, REVEALED IN THIS GOSPEL AS... 1. He who was with God in the beginning - Jn 1:1
3. He who was God - Jn 1:1
4. He who was in the beginning with God - Jn 1:2
5. He who was the Creator of all things - Jn 1:3
6. He was the light of men - Jn 1:4
7. He who became flesh and dwelt among men - Jn 1:14 B. JESUS, PROCLAIMED IN THIS GOSPEL AS... 1. The Word - Jn 1:1,14
2. The Lamb of God - Jn 1:29
3. The Son of God - Jn 1:34
4. The King of Israel - Jn 1:49
5. The promised Messiah - Jn 4:25-26
6. The Bread of Life - Jn 6:35
7. The Light Of the World - Jn 8:12
8. The Great "I Am" - Jn 8:56-58
9. The Good Shepherd - Jn 10:11
10. The Resurrection and The Life - Jn 11:25 [The prayer in Jn 17 is great because the greatest Person who ever lived is the One who offered it! It is also great because of...] II. THE OCCASION THAT DEMANDED THE PRAYER A. OCCASIONS PROVIDE WEIGHT TO WORDS... 1. Neil Armstrong said, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
a. If he had made the statement while playing hopscotch with the neighborhood children, nobody would have paid him attentionB. THE OCCASION SURROUNDING THIS PRAYER... 1. Notice His first words: "Father, the hour has come" - Jn 17:1 2. What 'hour' is that?
a. His appointment with the cross - cf. Jn 16:31-32[The occasion, in which Jesus knows His crucifixion is imminent, gives great weight to the words of His prayer. Whatever preoccupied the mind of Jesus at this time must be very important! The prayer was also great because of...] III. THE CONTENTS OF THE PRAYER A. THIS PRAYER DEALS WITH GREAT THEMES... 1. It takes us back and forward in time
a. Back to eternity past - Jn 17:52. It deals with glory
a. The glory of the Father and the Son - Jn 17:13. It discusses love
a. The Father's love for believers - Jn 17:23B. THIS PRAYER CONTAINS GREAT PETITIONS... 1. "Glorify Me" - Jn 17:1-5
2. "Keep them" - Jn 17:6-12
3. "Sanctify them" - Jn 17:13-19
4. "That they all might be one" - Jn 17:20-23
5. "That they may behold My glory" - Jn 17:24-26 C. THIS PRAYER HAS THREE GREAT DIVISIONS... 1. Jesus prays for Himself - Jn 17:1-5
2. Jesus prays for His disciples - Jn 17:6-19
3. Jesus prays for all believers - Jn 17:20-26 [Even a brief examination of its contents reveal the greatness of this prayer, and why it is worthy of careful study. Finally, a fourth reason why this is the greatest prayer: because of...] IV. THE VICTORY REVEALED IN THE PRAYER A. THE CONCERN OF JESUS IS EVIDENT... 1. Pertaining to "the world" (used 19 times!) and the effect it can have on believers 2. A justifiable concern, for we live in a world which is:
a. Deceived (blinded by Satan) - cf. 2Co 4:3-4B. YET JESUS HAS OVERCOME THE WORLD... 1. As He told His disciples prior to this prayer - cf. Jn 16:33 2. In this prayer, the victory in Jesus is revealed! The world may be:
a. Deceived, but Jesus has shown us reality, in revealing the only true God - Jn 17:3CONCLUSION 1. These four reasons help us appreciate why Jesus' prayer in Jn 17 has been called...
a. "The Greatest Prayer Ever Prayed"2. It is indeed a great prayer...
a. But it is a prayer in behalf of those who are Jesus' disciplesThen as disciples of Jesus Christ, we should do all that we can to see that "The Greatest Prayer Ever Prayed" be fulfilled in our lives...! Note: The main idea and many points for this outline came from a book by Warren Wiersbe which I believe is now out of print. Source: Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016
by Ralph Bouma
"These words spake Jesus…" JOH 17:1.The four gospels tell of many instances in which the Lord Jesus Christ prayed, but as His hour to depart drew near His prayer was greatly intensified as He went into spiritual travail. He likened such Spiritual travail to that childbirth in the illustration He gave in JOH 16:21. There He said, "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world." As our Savior came to the time of His departure from this world, He was in the soul travail that was prophesied in ISA 53:11. God's Word says, "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many [This prophesy also tell what was the source of this travail]; for he shall bear their iniquities." Our Saviour's intercessory prayer is a monument of His affection for His bride, whose iniquities He came to bear! He "…gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, TIT 2:14. Notice that our Lord was not primarily praying for Himself as He approached that dread hour, but His affection for those He came to redeem reveals itself. Our Saviour pleaded, "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine," JOH 17:9. This intercessory prayer mentions all blessings and privileges necessary for the unity and oneness of the church. Our Lord prayed for the oneness between the Father, Himself, the apostles, and all believers. In JOH 17:22 He prayed, "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one." The words we have chosen to consider, "These words spake Jesus." *"These words" are the preface to our Savior's intercessory prayer. Our text says, "These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven." These words constituted the benediction of His farewell sermon! He said, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world," JOH 16:33. It is so precious to see how our Savior intercedes before the courts of heaven for this blessed peace which He has promised to His own. He speaks these same blessed words unto us in His Word today, as He pleads for us in the courts of heaven as our Intercessor, "…seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them," HEB 7:25. Without Christ's intercession, our prayers would be nothing but mere vain repetition of words. Joseph told his brethren they would not see his face unless his brother Benjamin was with it. Stop and think what a blessing it is that we can come to seek the Father's face on the basis that His own beloved Son is not only with, but also in us - and we in Him! COL 1:27-28 says, "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Christ's intercession is the golden conduit through which our prayers ascend unto the throne of grace, and through which the Divine influences of grace are conveyed unto us. 1CO 8:6 says, "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him."
Take Your Burden to the Lord and Leave It ThereIf the world from you with-hold of its silver and gold,
by Michael MiltonGospel: John 17:1-8,13 Paul Miller, the author of 'Love Walked Among Us', begins teaching seminars by writing these words on a flip chart:
I do nothing on my own. I can only do what I see my dad doing.He asks for analysis. In the age of Oprah and Dr. Phil, the armchair psychologists' answers come.
He sounds weak. Almost helpless.Miller writes, "After I've let the hook go deep, I tell them that Jesus said those words."
"I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does . . . .By myself I can do nothing . . . "Jesus is the model of submission. Let us read John 17 and consider the submission of Jesus in His High Priestly Prayer and what it says to us today. May the hook of God's grace go deep and reel us in to see just how dependent we are . . . and how wonderful that is.
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. i glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. "I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me"We Will Have No King to Rule over Us "Where am I missing it?" As a pastor now ministering in the United States, that was the question John Guest was asking himself. He felt that he was not connecting with his parishioners in Pennsylvania. He was a fine preacher, an excellent scholar, and a very friendly and engaging personality. He was also very devoted to Jesus Christ and to preaching His Word. One weekend as he was antiquing with his wife, he found his answer, the missing link of understanding in his ministry. The answer was printed on a Revolutionary-era sign that he spotted in an antique shop. The sign, which would have hung in a Colonial general store, read, "We will have no king to rule over us!" John Guest came to understand that he had come from England where having a king, calling someone Your Lordship, was a part of the culture. But the idea of lordship and total monarchy was something completely outside of the American psyche. That independent spirit created a great nation. But it can get in the way when it comes to submitting your life to another in relationships like marriage, friendship, work, but especially and primarily in a relationship with God. Nothing could be more central to the Christian life than the creature submitting himself to His Creator. We are considering submission in John 17 because it is at the very heart of this prayer. In this prayer Jesus is perfectly submitted to His Father. He calls God His Father, and this speaks of submission. Jesus says that He is doing what the Father wants Him to do, and this speaks of submission. In seeing this submission, there are messages for our lives as His people. Submission is not popular for a people bent on self-identity, self-realization, and self-reliance, but God calls us to a life of submission, and we can learn something about it from this passage. I want to address four myths about submission in the Christian life. Myth 1 - Submission to God Is a Loss of Freedom. Many people believe that if they submit their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, they will lose their freedom; they cannot do anything that they want to do in life. A tragic flaw in this reasoning is that a person who is not under the lordship of Jesus is not free. The Bible says that you are in bondage to sin, to the lusts of your own flesh, to the whims of an evil spiritual opponent who wishes you destroyed, and to a world that is alienated from the one who brings true freedom. Or as that great theologian Bob Dylan put it,
You're gonna have to serve somebody,Well, it may be the devil or it may the LordThis myth then precipitates another lie: You can be a disciple of Jesus without a radical submission to Jesus in every area of your life. This desire to have it both ways took on a very seductive heresy a few years ago when we heard about Jesus being our Savior but not our Lord. This is a lie. If He is not Lord, He is not Savior. I want to show you that Jesus, while being God, was in total submission to God the Father. He claimed to be God, and there can be no mistake about it. In John 10:30 He claimed that He and the Father were one. The religious leaders plotted against him because He claimed to be God. He said that if you have seen Him, you have seen the Father. Yet this one who is God, who claims divinity, 2 who says in John 17 that He was with the Father before the world ever began, 3 also says that He does only what the Father wants Him to do. 4 He is submissive to God His Father. His being is perfectly equal, but His role is submissive. This prayer of Jesus in John 17 shows total submission. Even the opening of His prayer shows this:
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed, "‘Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you'"The phrase "the time has come" is meant to say that His appointed time to die for the sins of His people has come. Jesus is living a life that His Father ordained for Him. He is headed for the cross to die for sinners. Yet, there has never been anyone more free because our Lord is controlled by a love that He said existed before the world began. He is free from every other passion and interest because of His one holy passion. And one holy passion makes you free. Shall you think that you, a mortal, a creature created by this God, can maintain independence by being alienated from this God? Can you, believer, actually think for one moment that you, who are said to be a gift of love from Father to Son, can actually be independent from God? Going your own way? But many imagine such a thing. The classic tale of resisting God for his own supposed independence is that of the great church father Augustine. In his Confessions Augustine recounts how he did not want to yield his life to God, thinking that do so would be to give up his own rights. But the prayers of his mother, Monica, and the words of a child drove him to the Scriptures where he saw the insanity of unbelief. Augustine wrote these words:
You called, you cried, you shattered my deafness.That is the language of a lover and a heart set free. I resisted God in my own life. Perhaps like someone listening, I thought that to live apart from God meant freedom. But it was insanity. I was deaf to the sound of His sweet words of life. I was blind to the sight of His hand moving in my life and in the world. I had no sense of the presence of God. But to give your life away to the Lord is to be acquitted of the judgment against your sins and to be set at liberty. And more. it is not only to know Him but to experience His power in your life. It is, in a word, to live. Now let me address this matter to the believer. This myth, shed at the point of receiving Christ as Lord and Savior, re-appears, like a virus, in the Christian life. The myth reappears whenever Christ calls you to follow Him into a new calling, to a new role in His kingdom. It is then that we say, "I don't want that kind of restriction in my life." I, too, remember being called to follow God into the very narrow calling of the ministry. I told God that I could serve Him just as well in other ways. I even felt that to follow God into this calling would be to restrict my life. Then a friend told me about the life of Martin Luther. Luther was gifted to be a great lawyer or a great musician, but Luther said that because he was called to preach, he was in chains. But in his chains he found his freedom. To follow Jesus, to teach that class, to go to the mission field, to surrender to God to be a pastor, or to follow Him to forgive that one who hurt you, will put you in chains. But in those velvet chains of Jesus Christ, you will find your freedom. Submission to the Lord is not a loss of freedom but a life of liberty like you have never known before. Myth 2 - Submission Is a Loss of Identity Again, we must point to the fact that in submitting to His Father, Jesus does not lose His identity as God, but his role relationship with the Father is clarified:
"I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do" (John 17:4, NIV).Yet there are some who think that if they follow Jesus, they will lose their identity as freethinking, do-as-they-please people. Or they think they will check their minds at the door of the church and be mindless robots. How far from the truth this is. Yet how many secretly hold on to this lie of hell. What is the answer? The answer is love. Jesus submitted to His Father in a covenant of redemption made in eternity past to leave His royal robes of divinity to live as man and to die for man that man may live. He submitted Himself to earthly authorities, even though all of them - kings and parents and governments - will one day have to bow their knee to declare that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Jesus submitted Himself to the elements of the world - the dreary dampness of the rainstorm and the scorching heat of the sun - even though He created the elements out of His own word. He submitted Himself to the cross even though He made the trees from which that cross was formed. He submitted Himself to evil men and then cried, "Father forgive them . . . " Why? Because He was intent on saving the gift given to Him by His Father before the foundation of the world. You are a gift of love from God the Father to God the Son. Jesus' identity is the Son and your identity is a child of God, if you submit to Jesus. I tell the men who come to me to be married that in taking this woman to be your wife, you are giving up your identity as your own man. You are now entering a life where you live for this woman. You will become, in the eyes of God, one flesh with her. You are to give your life away to her. I tell the woman that in taking his name, in becoming his wife, you are submitting to Him as a believer does to Christ. I remind them that Sarah called her husband Lord. Sometimes that one throws them a bit. No, it never does when they are in love and committed to each other. Submission is no problem where there is love. I remember years ago hearing the motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. I like him. He is from Mississippi and used to be a salesman. He gives sage advice, especially to salesmen. When I was a manager for Ashland Chemical, I took my salesmen to hear him. He said a lot of good things that really helped us, but the thing I remember most was his introduction of himself. He said, "Hi, I am Mrs. Ziglar's happy husband!" I have since used that line many times. "I am just Mae Milton's happy husband." "I am John Michael Milton's happy daddy." Why say that? You know why: Love. Love delights in assuming the identity of the one loved, in marriage, in friendship, even in work. My friend, giving your life to the Lord Jesus Christ will not be a loss of identity. Submission is a sweet surrender that brings sonship. Hi, I am the forgiven sinner, the slave set free, the happy child of the One I love. Myth 3 - Submission Is a Loss of Purpose
"For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him" (John 17:2, NIV).Jesus has a very narrow purpose. He is the Mediator of the Covenant. He is the High Priest, holy and unblemished, to go before the Father to present us righteous. He is the Lamb of God to be slain for the sins of His people. "You shall call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins."6 This is a very limiting role. Paul's letter to the Philippians speaks about how He submitted to His Father's will: And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:8-11). Submission to God the Father caused Jesus to realize His purpose. Jesus tells us that when we are crucified to self, we live. He tells us that whoever saves his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for Jesus' sake finds it. Thus, A.W. Tozer wrote, People who are crucified with Christ have three distinct marks:
1. they are facing only one direction,And Bonhoeffer rightly said, "When Christ calls a man, He bids Him come and die." 8 But to die to sin, to the old self, is not to lose your purpose for life. It is to find it. If you ever get tired of my six sermons on John 17, please remember that Martyn Lloyd-Jones has four volumes on John 17! This man, Lloyd-Jones, is one of the most fascinating figures in twentieth century church history. This man from humble beginnings in South Wales was trained as a physician at St. Bartholomew's in London, a noted medical school and training ground for world-class doctors. He became a surgeon and was, in fact, an official surgeon to the British monarchy. His wife was also a physician. But God called Him to the ministry. He left St. Bartholomew's and the staff of the Queen to preach the gospel to coal miners in South Wales. The London Times ran a feature story on this. The whole angle was: How could a prominent young London physician possibly leave all the money and trappings and respect and honor of his position to give his years to poor coal miners in Wales? His answer? "I gave up nothing. I gain all. It is an honor to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ." I used to think that if I followed the Lord, I would lose my purpose. The thing is, I didn't know what my purpose was. It kept changing. But since Jesus took control of my life, He gave me a purpose. As a husband, a father, a friend, a worker, a human being with emotions and desires and interests, I now have a purpose: to offer my life to Jesus as an act of love. When I do, I receive great delight and joy. If I died today, I would be a most complete man. My completeness no longer depends on what great things I have done. I am free from that. My completeness is in Him. I am like a wife in love with her husband. I am like a child who looks up to a father and finds identity in Him. I have lost nothing in following Him. I have realized peace and fulfillment. And you will, too. For submission to the Lord is not a loss of purpose. Submission to His will is the great destiny of the happiest people on earth. Myth 4 - Submission Is Loss of Joy This myth says that if I become a Christian or if, as a Christian, I follow the Lord to where I believe He is calling me, I will no longer be happy. This is one of the greatest lies. Jesus prayed that his disciples might know joy:
"But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves." (John 17:13)Jesus also says,
"I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."To welcome Jesus into your life, to follow Him, to give all away for Him, is to know the joy and love of the Triune God in your own life. You were, in fact, created that you may glorify Him and enjoy Him. John Piper says of the love of the Triune God, "In creation God "went public" with the joy that reverberates between Father and Son." 9 In the fall of man, our ears became deaf and our hearts became cold to that reverberating joy. But in new birth, in redemption, we can hear again. We can feel again. We are like smokers who quit and can suddenly taste again. And the longer we linger before Him in prayer and in His Word, the tastier His joy becomes. The question is this: Are you really satisfied not having the ultimate joy that your heart craves? Are you content with living below the line of joy? I think of the words of C.S. Lewis at this point:
"We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."10For too long, as a young man, I was too easily pleased. But I was most miserable. I sought and sought to find joy. Yet, to think that I would find it by giving away my life seemed, at minimum, a contradiction to me. It may to you. My friend, I have never known such joy as following Jesus Christ. And would you leave today clinging to half-hearted dreams? Would you walk away content with the little trinkets of this world when eternal life is offered? Would you be pleased with anything less than knowing and following this Jesus who prays for His own? Submission to the Lord Jesus is not a loss of joy, but a mending of the woundedness of our souls that brings endless delight to our lives. Jesus submitted his life to His Father to die so that we who were given to Him by His Father can live, even though we die. To surrender your life to Jesus Christ will not be a hard choice if you know His love and receive it. You may face trials and even persecution for surrendering your life to Jesus Christ. But on the day when the prayers of Jesus for you are finally answered and you are safe in the arms of Christ, you will look at it all and say, "I don't regret a second, it was all worth it . . . to see Him now." Notes: 1. http://bobdylan.com/songs/serve.html
2. "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30).
3. "And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed" (John 17:5).
4. So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise" (John 5:19).
6. Matthew 1:21
9. John Piper, Desiring God (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996) 44.
10. C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (Grand Rapids:Eerdmans, 1965), pp. 1-2 as cited by John Piper, Desiring God (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996) 17.
by Father Paul Campbell, LCGospel: John 17:20-26
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: "I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them."Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you and all that you have revealed for our salvation. I hope in you because of your overflowing mercy. Every single act of yours on this earth demonstrated your love for us. Your ascent into heaven before the eyes of the Apostles inspires my hope of one day joining you there. I love you and wish you to be the center of my life. Petition: Lord, increase my faith in your love. 1. Who is God? In his first epistle, John tells us that God is love. Before the foundation of the world, the Father loved the Son. Within the Trinity there is a perfect sharing of life and love. Even after the Incarnation, Jesus remained in his Father's love. At Christ's baptism, the Father spoke of his love for his Son. “This is my beloved son” (Matthew 3:17). At the Transfiguration he repeated this sign of love: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17:5). These moments manifest God's inner life. 2. A Share in His Life: God created us to share in the loving relationship of the Trinity. The Father's plan is to love us, to bring us into Trinitarian love. He wants to love us in his Son with a Father's eternal love. If we could catch a mere glimpse of the reality of this love, it would transform our lives. God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son into the world (see John 3:16). Love is at the heart of the universe. 3. Sharing in God's Love: God is love, and if he is in us, it is as love. God pours his love, himself, into our hearts. As he shares his life, he shares his love. This is the love that he wants us to give to others. Jesus gave his disciples the love he had received from his Father, and sent them forth to continue his work of sharing that love with all of humanity. Think of the people today who are lonely and lost, starving for love and attention. They have no clue that God loves them with an eternal love or that he has loved them intimately, deeply and perfectly from all eternity. They do not know that this love has given them life and maintains them in existence. People need to hear the good news of God's love. This is our mission. Conversation with Christ: Jesus, help me to share your love with those around me. Don't allow me to remain focused just on myself and the circumstances in my life. I need you. I need your love, as do so many others. I need to love in order to give myself to your work, but I also need your constant help and support. Resolution: I will let someone know that God loves them. Source: Regnum Christi
Gospel: John 17:20-26
"… that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me." (John 17:23)Have you ever seen a first-time father hold his new baby? It seems that the two connect immediately - and in some deep and unexplainable way. It's as if the father instantly falls in love with his child. Even the baby seems to recognize and respond to his familiar, reassuring voice. The delight between the two is evident. Even as that baby grows, the father's delight in his child can deepen, encompassing the child's personality, gifts, talents, and even quirks. Now, if a human father can take such delight in his children, imagine how God must delight in us! Even though Jesus says it clearly in today's Gospel reading, we can still find it hard to accept: God loves us "even as he has loved" Jesus. Can God really delight in us, with all of our sins, weaknesses, and failings, as much as he loved his only-begotten Son? Since we know it is true - because Jesus tells us it is - let's try to imagine it. Picture yourself sitting next to Jesus, enjoying the warm conversation of two close friends. Now imagine Jesus saying something like "You know, my Father really loves you. He's as crazy about you as he is about me." You nod politely, but in your heart you just can't believe it - not even though Jesus himself said it. Just then, God walks in and greets you with a huge smile. You lock eyes, and like the baby and the dad, you feel a love and familiarity that enfolds you. You immediately know that he delights in you, and that knowledge fills your heart with elation. Go ahead and bask in your Father's love today. Let it fill you with the courage you need to face your day. Let his love propel you to take up the battle against sin. Preserve this feeling of God's perfect love for you throughout the day, and watch to see the effect it has on everything you do. "Father, I am amazed that you could love me as much as you love your Jesus. Help me continue to enjoy the depth and the breadth of your love today, so that I can grow in my love for you." Source: The Word Among Us
by Samuel ZumwaltGospel: John 17:1-11
1 After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. 6 "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. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 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. 9 I 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. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And 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.That They May Be One Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Among pastors and theologians, one hears often enough that the unity of Christ's Church is a given just before they begin to talk about our differences in faith and practice. Because Paul says in Ephesians 4 that there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, many pastors and theologians like to say that Christ's Church is one no matter how much individual Christians may differ and disagree with each other. Evangelical Christians tend to say that all those that confess Jesus as Lord are united in Him. Liturgical Christians tend to say that all that are baptized in the name of the Triune God are united in Him. Unity in Christ is a given, theologians and pastors like to say, and most agree that the visible disunity of Christians is a scandal. Pope Benedict XVI, the leader of 1.1 billion Roman Catholics, said that working for the visible unity of the Church was a major goal during his papacy. The disunity of Christians is bothersome to more than us Christians. There is no doubt that the visible disunity of Christians is a scandal to the world - particularly to unbelievers. Doubtless some unbelievers wonder: "Why can't those Christians get along?" People that profess no faith often look at feuding Christians and doubt that being a Christian makes any good difference in the life of a believer. When it comes to being nice or even being charitable, one unbeliever can almost always find several unbelievers that far surpass many self-identified Christians. "So, what's the point of being Christian if it doesn't make you a better person?" they say. Typically Christians don't like to respond to such questions or criticisms. Rather one often hears a more positive take on the scandal of disunity. Among a number of pastors and theologians the rallying cry is: "Unity in diversity" or "United in Christ despite our differences." Some pastors and theologians like to say: "We are united at the altar and the baptismal font despite our profound differences." But such a positive approach doesn't just stop there. Some Christians like to point to shared faith of any kind as a type of unity between believers in God. These Christians like to find common cause with anyone that focuses on what the prophet Micah called doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God. In short, some pastors and theologians declare victory by saying: "All of us believers are already one in God's eyes." Or some say, "I am one with those that share my commitments." Today I would like to look a bit closer at this final prayer of Jesus in John 17. Perhaps we will be able to hear more clearly what it is that the Lord Jesus prays for in the night before His death. Because today's Gospel reading ends at verse 11 omitting the final 15 verses, we miss the full shape of this prayer of Jesus before He willingly goes to His death on the cross. God's Messiah is at the end of a long line of Jewish leaders who offer final words of exhortation, encouragement, and even prayer (think of Moses, Joshua, and Ezra). Jesus prays for Himself in the first six or eight verses directed towards His heavenly Father (some scholars say that only the first six verses are included in this section). Then, in the next thirteen or eleven verses, accordingly, He prays for His disciples. Finally, in the last seven verses, He prays for all believers of every time and place. In this closing prayer, the Lord Jesus underscores that He and the Father share more than a moral unity. It is not the case that the most excellent rabbi Jesus teaches what a transcendent God wills for humans. It is not the case that the divine messenger Jesus reveals great secrets or insider information to those that learn from him. Rather Jesus is God in the flesh, the only begotten Son of the Father from all eternity. Through His kenosis (emptying) the Lord Jesus has laid aside His heavenly glory (His wholly otherness or transcendence) in order to become human in order to save humankind from eternal death. Yet, at the same time, the Lord Jesus has glorified the Father through His signs (mighty acts in chapters 2-11), and now He will glorify the Father through His death on a cross. In the process of His dying, rising, and ascension to the Father, the Lord Jesus will again enter into the glory He once enjoyed with the Father. The Father will glorify the Son, says our Lord with great confidence. Indeed this oneness of Father and Son is an astonishing mystery that the children of God are privileged to witness and even overhear as the Lord Jesus prays this last prayer before going to His death on the cross. He reminds His Father that He is faithfully completing His mission. Through His mighty acts and through His teaching, the Lord Jesus has invited people to share the divine life and love that the Triune God enjoys within Himself. When the Son is lifted up on the cross, all people will be drawn to look with wonder upon the spectacle of the enthronement of God in the flesh on His cross (John 12). Many will come to believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God and will have forgiveness of sins and eternal life in His name (John 20). Indeed the Crucified Son of God will supremely show the world the loving heart of the Father who did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world (John 3). And believers will be drawn into the intimate life and love of the Triune God. As our Gospel reading comes to a close, we overhear the Lord Jesus praying for His disciples that they may be protected from the world of unbelief. The disciples have been set apart for witness to the one true God in a world of darkness. As the Lord Jesus returns to His heavenly glory, His disciples will need to be held together in that divine life and love that they have begun to enjoy through their fellowship with Him. Our Lord reminds His Father that His disciples belong to His Father, and they need divine protection from the world of unbelief and from Satan, the father of lies. He prays that His disciples may be one just as He and the Father are one. It goes almost without saying that even this truncated version of our Lord's closing prayer is more mystical than linear western minds prefer in these dark days of the 21st century. Inquiring minds want to have a clear exposition of this seemingly opaque prayer with a resulting action plan that can be carried out in the real world of busy religious folks. Once one knows what this prayer means presumably one will know what it is that one is supposed to do to be one as Jesus and the Father are one. Pietists of both conservative and liberal stripes tend to want to join hands and sing "Kumbaya" because "my sweet Lord" wants me to make nice with those whom He loves even though they and I might disagree deeply about what it means to be Christian. Hence the hubris of the leaders and theologians of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who would revise the entire Jewish and Christian scriptural witness regarding homosexuality. "God (don't say Father) loves everyone, and Jesus died for everyone. Therefore it's wrong to expect 21st century people to conform their lives to Scripture's clear teaching that God's will for human relationships is one man and one woman in a lifelong covenant of faithfulness. We can all be one in Christ without sharing the same understanding of Scripture." Having given up on doctrinal unity, many Christians opt for a kind of oneness in good feeling. Activists of both conservative and liberal stripes tend to want to make common cause with people of like mind around a thinly veiled "What Would Jesus Do" praxis. In the United States, one often finds gatherings of Christians that look like either the Republican Party at prayer or the Democratic Party at prayer. Hence one can see Christians one in opposition to abortion or Christians one in opposition to tax cuts for the wealthy. One can see Christians one in opposition to homosexual marriage or Christians one in opposition to the reform of Social Security. Having given up on doctrinal unity, many Christians opt for a kind of unity in social action with anathemas for those that will not share "my" commitments. When Pope Benedict offers prayers for Christian unity and expresses hope for healing the schism of East and West, the suspicious response is "On whose terms?" In response to Benedict's prayers, among Lutheran Christians one can hear a long list of insurmountable preconditions for reunion with Rome that include everything from abandoning the papacy and the Roman hierarchy (at the least) to embracing indiscriminately all married pastors, all female pastors, and even all actively gay pastors (at the most). In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, one can see increasingly a planned movement towards a union of liberal Protestants while eschewing any movement towards Rome or even towards other American Lutherans. Unity must be on our terms. Lost in all of this Christian disunity is any sense of what it is that the Lord Jesus prays for. His prayer is not a call to pietistic "loosey-gooseyness," and it is not a call to find common cause with whomever one can wherever one can. In short, the Lord Jesus' prayer is not a program or an action plan. It is a confident prayer to His Father in heaven. As we listen in on His prayer, we are made aware that the divine life and love that the Triune God shares is offered to everyone through the life, death, and resurrection of God's Son Jesus. When He is lifted up on His kingly cross, He beckons us to fall in awe and wonder before such amazing love as this. Indeed He beckons us to lose our lives with and in Him that we may enjoy the Triune God's eternal life and love. What a far cry that is from the strange notion of ordination to ministry as empowerment - as if the laying on of hands were a new and higher legitimization than the Visible Promise of Holy Baptism that we have been born anew as children of God! What a far cry that is from declaring (as did the ELCA Church Council) that a denomination's continuing existence is the greatest value of all! What a far cry the cross of Christ our King is from our loose coalitions of kindred spirits united in feeling or deed! As commentators like Marva Dawn have already noted, it is as if Christians have forgotten that we have been set apart from the world of unbelief in Holy Baptism. This is what the Lord Jesus is praying for not only then but now! Oneness with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit means abandoning oneself to the eternal life and love of God. One cannot be both of the world and of God. No matter how one might like to straddle the fence, there is a chasm between heaven and hell (what C. S. Lewis called the Great Divorce) that cannot be bridged. The Lord Jesus prays that we may be found with Him. Post-modern people can operate with all the hermeneutics of suspicion that we want about God's absolute claims. But there is in Jesus Christ a marked difference between life and death, between good and evil, between darkness and light, and between Truth and falsehood. From His kingly cross He still beckons us to receive God's life and God's love. The Holy Spirit is calling us to trust this Visible Promise. You can enjoy God's life and love today, but you have to leave all your preconditions behind! All! In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Samuel D. Zumwalt, St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Wilmington , North Carolina USA Source: Göttinger Predigten im Internet ed. by U. Nembach, J. Neukirch
by Paul S. BergeGospel: John 17:20-26 The prayer of Jesus in John 17 is a call to unity - and must be understood as such - from the opening words, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you" (17:1), to the closing words, "I made known your name to them, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them" (17:26). The heart of the prayer draws upon three prepositions which identify the life and pattern of the community in the world: "in" (e*n, 17:11-13); "from" (e*k, 17:14- 16); "into" (ei*", 17:17-19). In 17:11-13 the community is identified as living "in the world," but in a very specific way, "in your [the Father's] name." In 17:14-16 the community's origin is "not from the world," as Jesus' origin is "not from the world," and in this identity they are kept "from the evil one." In 17:17-19 we hear that just as Jesus has been sent "into the world" by the Father, so Jesus sends his followers "into the world." Around this threefold identity, Jesus' followers are empowered to be the community of witness in the world. Jesus' petition in 17:20 is not only for those in the present community but also for those who will come to faith through their witness. Jesus' prayer is that his followers and those to whom they witness may be one - in the same unity as that of the Father and the Son - with the purpose "that the world may believe that you sent me"(17:21). In this God-given unity is the presence of God's glory, a unity of God that expresses the perfect unity of the Father and the Son, "that the world may know that you sent me"(17:23). In the particularity and perfection of God's sending of the Son is a living witness in the world to the universality of God's saving purpose for all people. The fulfillment of God's saving purpose for all is brought to completion in the glory of the relationship between the Father and the Son, a relationship of unity and love established before the pillars or foundations of the world were set in place (17:24). Because the world does not come to this saving knowledge on its own, God has sent the Son to make the Father's love and presence known. In his closing words, Jesus acknowledges his accomplishment: God's name is made known and will be made known. Toward this purpose, Jesus' prayer makes known the love of the Father for the Son that this love may live in the lives of the believers just as Jesus lives in them (17:26). Jesus' prayer continues its work in our world, calling and inviting all into the presence of God. It is a prayer of eschatological fulfillment that the God who brought all creation into being will bring all things to consummation: "This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (17:3). Source: Word & World Texts in Context, Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary, 1995
by Mary Oliver[Editor's Note: One of the simplest, and yet most profound understandings of prayer.] It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Malankara World Journals with the Theme: Prayer
Volume 7 No 400 [CCCC] Mar 1, 2017
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