Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Prayer, High Priestly Prayer of Jesus, Feeding 5000
Volume 7 No. 424 July 7, 2017
 
Foreword
This Sunday is the 5th Sunday following Pentecost. It is the middle of Summer in North America. It is the midst of the Monsoon Season in Kerala. The 'darkest month' of the year, viz., Karckadakam, begins on July 17. It may rain non-stop for a few days in this month with widespread flooding etc. The dark days of Karckadakam is replaced by the sunny days of Chingam that arrives on August 17. The Onam falls on Sept 4 this year-one of the happiest days of the year in Kerala. It is the harvest festival and the time of boat races etc.

In church calendar, these are the 'ordinary' Sundays. We read what transpired during the public ministry of Jesus. This Sunday we read the miracle of Jesus feeding 5000+ (more like 10000) people with 5 loaves of barley bread and two pieces of fish. This miracle is judged so important that it is mentioned in all gospels.

There is one prayer of Jesus, known as High Priestly Prayer of Jesus mentioned in John 17, that doesn't get the deserved attention in our church lectionary. Most theologians feel that this is the best prayer in bible. It was delivered during the busy Maundy Thursday (Pesaho) gathering and with all that is going on (feet washing, commandment of love, institution of Holy Eucharist, etc.), we do not get much chance to give justice to that passage. So, we thought we will feature that prayer in this issue of Malankara World Journal.

Robert Deffinbaugh at the Biblical Studies Foundation described the background to the prayer thus:

The high priestly prayer of Jesus serves as a fitting conclusion to the upper room discourse of chapters 14-16. In verse one of chapter 17 John informs us that this prayer is to be understood as a kind of conclusion to the Lord's teaching in chapters 14-16. "These things Jesus spoke; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, he said " (John 17:1a). It is my personal opinion that this prayer, the longest of Jesus' recorded prayers, was intended to be overheard by His disciples. One purpose of this prayer was to bring comfort and hope to the troubled hearts of the disciples. It may have been more effective at the moment than all the teaching of chapters 14-16. While a measure of assurance resulted from the words of our Lord in chapters 14-16 (cf. 16:29-30), much more comfort and faith would be gained in the light of their fulfillment (John 13:19; 16:4). This prayer must have done much to calm the troubled hearts of the eleven.

Let us look carefully at this prayer, then, to find the comfort that it afforded the disciples. And let us remember that it was not only a prayer for the eleven, but for Christians of every age (John 17:20).

This prayer was prayed while sitting around the table, after celebrating the last supper. Disciples could hear it. It is a great intercessional prayer. Jesus wants to entrust the care of the disciples to God, the Father, while He is getting ready to face the passion. But it is not just for disciples, it is also for all future believers like us.

It is a unity prayer. Jesus is aware of the disagreements among his followers. He knows that this will grow when He is gone. So, he is praying for their unity. It is also for us. The church is more divided today than at any time in its history.

Please read the selected articles and the referred articles in the archives. It is a long prayer. Read slow and meditate. Books had been written about this prayer. It grows on you.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Chief Editor, Malankara World
 

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