Seventh Sunday of Easter
Passage: John 17:11–17:19
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: John 17:11-19
Date: May 13th, 2018; Easter 7; Series B
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
- On Maundy Thursday, the evening before our Lord died on the cross on Good Friday, Jesus and his disciples were together in the upper room.
- Judas left the gathering and went to the authorities to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
- He told them that Jesus was on his way to Gethsemane – so now would be a good time to capture him.
- Our Lord knew that his disciples were about to experience three of the scariest and loneliest days of their lives – the time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
- So he had one last thing to do before they left the upper room for Gethsemane.
- He prayed to the Father.
- This prayer has become known in the church as “Jesus' high priestly prayer” - and our Gospel lesson for this morning is part of that prayer.
- This prayer teaches us a lot about Jesus' attitude towards us.
- It is the night he will be arrested. You would expect that Jesus would be concerned and focused on himself - on the suffering and death that he knew was in his near future.
- But instead, he is concerned and focused on his disciples, on his church.
- In the days ahead his disciples would witness Jesus being mocked, spit on, beaten, and nailed to die on a cross.
- Jesus was soon to suffer all of this and then depart from his disciples - and he was concerned for them.
- So, what does he do? He prayed.
- And what does Jesus pray for his Church?
- That she be “successful”? Popular? Powerful? Wealthy?
- Jesus prays that his Church be protected by the power of God’s Name, that the Church be one, that she be protected from the assaults of the devil, and that she be holy, sanctified, set apart to be a sign of salvation for the world.
- This prayer is for us as well.
- Jesus has not left us, but he isn’t present in the way the people sitting around you in the pews are.
- He has ascended into heaven - and although he is with us - we cannot see him in the flesh like the disciples did.
- He has not yet come to take us to our eternal home where we will experience his presence fully.
- So, we find ourselves in a time of waiting for Jesus to return.
- We are in the time of "now, but not yet."
- He is with us now, but we cannot yet see him fully.
- Eternal life is ours now, but we do not experience it fully as we will in the eternal life that is to come.
- Now, we still experience sin, suffering, and death – things that will no longer exist in heaven.
- Christ has made us holy and righteous now, he has sanctified us in the truth - but we at the same time still have our sinful nature that continues to act in ways that are not according to God’s will.
- Now, but not yet.
- All of Christ's promises and gifts already belong to us now through faith, but we do not yet experience them fully.
- Now, but not yet.
- Jesus' high priestly prayer is for all of us who wait in this time of now, but not yet.
- His prayer is for you and me.
- And while we live in the tension of the “now, but not yet” Christian life, we also live in the tension of being in the world, but not of the world.
- We are like people who reside in one country, but are citizens of another.
- The trouble is that our sinful nature wants nothing more than to be of this world.
- Our sinful nature wants us to ignore the fact that we are citizens of heaven and instead focus on this world, this life, as though this is all there is to it.
- Our sinful nature wants us to prosper in a world that is not our home.
- Christ’s prayer for us is that we be in the world – that is that we enjoy the many blessings of this life: family, friends, vocations, hobbies, food and drink – but that we not be of the world.
- Those who are of the world live with the survival of the fittest mentality.
- People of the world live for the sole purpose of satisfying all of their wants and desires no matter what the cost.
- People of the world don’t care about God, about his will, or anyone else’s – in the end it is all about getting what they want whenever they want.
- People of the world live to eat, drink, and be merry - and that is where it ends.
- Jesus prays to his Father that it not be so among us.
- Yes, we are in the world. But we are not of the world.
- But, again, we do not live this way fully yet. The process of living our lives according to God’s will has begun, but it is not yet perfected.
- We don’t yet live like citizens of heaven all of the time.
- We still fall into temptation. We sin. We go our own way.
- We find ourselves crossing the line of being in the world into being of the world.
- And for this we deserve to suffer the consequences of our sin.
- We deserve to be eternally separated from God because we often despise the life that God has for us and we embrace living not only in the world – but also of the world.
- But it is for this very reason that Christ Jesus came into this world. To save us. To restore us.
- To take upon himself the consequences and punishment that our sin deserves so that we may be one with God and with each other - even as Jesus and the Father are one.
- Jesus accomplished our salvation for us through his life, death, and resurrection and he reveals to us in his high priestly prayer how we receive it.
- He prayed to the Father, "I have given them your word."
- We are kept in the Father’s name, we are made one, through God’s Word.
- It is God's Word that keeps us one in the Father's name.
- It is God’s Word combined with water and applied to us personally in our Baptism that keeps us one in the Father’s name.
- It is through receiving God’s Word made flesh, Christ’s true body and blood, that keeps us one in the Father’s name.
- Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your Word is truth.”
- God’s true Word sanctifies us. It sets us apart as his holy and righteous people.
- Jesus then prayed, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”
- We have been sanctified in the truth and we have been sent into the world as God’s holy and righteous people to love, serve, and proclaim to those around us that God’s gift of salvation is for them too.
- What a great privilege this is to be sent into the world to proclaim God’s Word of truth that others may know of his love, forgiveness, and gift of salvation.
- Jesus, our great High Priest, loves and cares for us.
- We are prayed for. Jesus, our High Priest, is continually praying for us.
- He prays that we would be united as one with all who believe in him.
- He prays that we would be protected from evil and the evil one.
- He prays that we would be sanctified in the truth of the forgiveness of our sins.
- He prays that we would remain steadfast in the Holy Father's name by the power of his Word.
- And so we are. We are one with God and all of his people. We are protected.
- Eternal life without sin and death is ours now – and we look forward with certain hope to when we will experience this life fully in the eternal life that is to come. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.