John 17 allows us to eavesdrop on Jesus’ conversation with His Father, His prayer. I’m so struck by Jesus’ concern for his disciples and also for you and me as He heads toward His brutal death. He has completed the job that God sent Him to do – He gave us a picture of God, and all that is about to culminate in the most extraordinary act of love ever witnessed. God came to earth and became one of us in order to save us. The god of no other religion ever did that. While other religions give a list of do’s and don’ts, Christianity says that it’s all been done through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The books of Matthew and Luke both record what’s known as The Lord’s Prayer, Matthew’s account being the longer one that is most recognized. Jesus used these words to teach His disciples how to pray, showing the elements that should be part of their conversations with God. John 17 gives us an intimate picture of what was on Jesus’ heart as He poured it out to His Father. It wasn’t His imminent death or the pain that He knew He would experience. It was us, His people, that were at the forefront of his heart and mind. I’m humbled and overwhelmed to know that you and I were on His mind during His last hours.
Jesus didn’t pray that we would live in some kind of false reality, completely separated from the world. He prayed that we would be very much in the world, but that we would recognize that we were not of it. As Christ followers, we should be different than the world around us, but different in a way that draws and elicits curiosity, not different in way that divides and repels. Earlier in John’s biography Jesus tells us that we should be known by the way we love – the way we love those inside the faith, but also those that are far from God. Love should be what unites us as believers.
Jesus’ prayers for you and I continue today. I hope that gives you courage to love boldly and to be an example of His love to those around you.
Executive Director of Education and Outreach