Seventh Sunday of Easter
Seventh Sunday of Easter (A)
June 5, 2011
Text: John 17:1-11
He is risen! He is risen, indeed!! Alleluia!!!
Jesus prays for His Church. We get a glimpse into Jesus’ prayer for His Church, for you, in what is known as the High Priestly prayer, the whole of the 17th Chapter of St. John’s Gospel. Jesus prays, for the hour has come, the divinely appointed hour, which is to say, the time for Jesus to suffer and be crucified for the sins of the world. Jesus prays that His heavenly Father would now glorify Him, glorify the Son. And in John’s Gospel, Jesus is glorified when He is lifted up on the cross for the salvation of the world. In this way, Jesus, the Son of God, also glorifies the Father, for this is what the Father sent Him to do. The Father gives the Son authority over all flesh, that He may give life to the world. Of course, as God, the Son has always had this glory and authority with the Father, even from all eternity. But now the Father bestows this glory and authority on the Son according to His human nature, because since the incarnation, you cannot separate the natures of Jesus. He is always God and He is always man, in one indivisible Person. And in this personal union of the divine and human natures of Jesus, our human flesh is glorified. God is one of us! He is flesh and blood! And He suffers in that flesh and sheds that blood to pay for the sins of the world and redeem us for Himself. Jesus prays for His Church. And the first thing He prays is that the Father would nail Him… to the cross. His glory is manifested in His weakness and suffering and death for the life of the world. By His death, beloved, you have life. The Father sent Him for this very purpose.
Indeed, Jesus is the revelation of the Father’s heart toward you, His love for you, and His saving will for you. Thus Jesus has manifested the divine Name to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Name placed upon you in your Baptism. God’s Name is on you. You belong to God. And here we come to the mysterious and comforting doctrine of election, that God has chosen you from all eternity to come to faith in Jesus Christ and receive eternal life. For Jesus says of those to whom He has manifested the Name of God: “Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word” (John 17:6; ESV). God has chosen you as His own from all eternity, and He has given you to Jesus to be His disciple. You have been redeemed by the Savior’s blood. You belong to Him. He purchased you. And He has called you by the Gospel. You have kept His Word, which as we learned last week, means that you hear it, take it to heart, meditate upon it, believe it, and observe it. But that comes only after the fact that you belong to the Father, who has given you to the Son. Notice that it is God who makes you a Christian. He makes you a Christian precisely through the revelation of His Name and His Word in His Son Jesus Christ, by which the Holy Spirit creates faith in you. Jesus says, “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” (v. 8). The Father gives you to the Son, who gives you the words of the Father, by which you come to know intimately and believe that Jesus is your Savior, sent by the Father to redeem you by His glorious death and resurrection, to make you the Father’s own child.
Jesus prays for His Church, that you be kept in the Word and in the Name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in the fellowship of the Triune God. In other words, He prays that you be kept in your Baptism. He prays that you be kept, that He continue to be glorified in you by your faith and love and good works (v. 10). And understand, this is not just a one-time prayer on the part of Jesus. This is not confined to the prayer recorded here on the night He was betrayed, as He reclined around the table with the apostles in the upper room. This is Jesus’ continual prayer for the Church. For even now, as our risen and ascended Lord, as He sits at the right hand of the Father, Jesus prays for His Church. He is our High Priest who continually makes intercession for us. The High Priestly prayer recorded in John 17 is just a little glimpse into what Jesus continually prays for His Church. Beloved, Jesus prays for you! And how could God ever deny His prayer? When God prays to God, the Son to the Father, God cannot deny the prayer! Jesus prays that you be kept in His Name and His Word and His death and resurrection. Amen! So let it be done! Yes, yes, it shall be so!
This prayer is so necessary because Jesus is no longer in the world in such a way as to be visible to the naked eye. He has ascended to the Father and sits at the Father’s right hand. He is now, even according to His human nature, glorified with the glory He had with the Father according to His divine nature from all eternity (v. 5). But for this reason, we can’t see Him with our eyes. We see Him, rather, by faith where He is truly and bodily present with us, where He has promised to be, in His Word where He continues to reveal the Name of God, in Baptism where He places that Name upon you, in the Holy Supper where He feeds you with His true body and blood. Jesus knows, though, that seeing Him by faith alone, and not by sight, is hard in this fallen world. Because in this fallen world, you have the temptations of the devil and your own sinful flesh to contend with, not to mention a world full of unbelievers who are hostile to Christ and His Christians, who mock you for your faith in Christ and belief in the Scriptures, who seek to convince you that your Lord’s Word is untrue, who reject you when you hold so tenaciously to the Savior. Who knows, you may even have to suffer real persecution someday for the sake of the Name, maybe even imprisonment, maybe even death. But understand that just as our Lord Jesus Christ is glorified in His suffering and death for you, so He is glorified in you when you suffer for His sake. When you suffer for Him, rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matt. 5:11-12). But of course, when you suffer, and as you continue to struggle in this life with the devil and with your sinful flesh, what a great comfort to know that Jesus prays for you. He prays that God would keep you even in suffering, even through suffering, even in times of temptation, even in spite of your sins and your sinful flesh, in the Name, by the Word, as the Father’s own dear child. Jesus prays for His Church.
What great comfort! At all times, in all circumstances, Jesus prays for you! How comforted you are when a brother or sister in Christ tells you that they’re praying for you, and rightly so! How much more comforted you are, then, when you recall that Jesus Himself is praying for you! When you sin, Jesus prays for you, that the Father would forgive you for the sake of His Son’s blood and death, and that the Father would restore you in repentance and faith by His Spirit. When you suffer the holy cross, Jesus prays for you, that you be preserved in your time of tribulation, that you not fall from faith, but be strengthened to persevere. When God blesses you with times of prosperity and joy, Jesus rejoices, and He prays for you, that you give thanks to the Father through the Son and in the Spirit, acknowledging God as the Giver of all good gifts, and that you not become presumptuous or arrogant on account of His blessings. And when you stand at death’s door, Jesus prays for you, that the devil be kept at bay, that you persevere by God’s grace unto the end, that Jesus may receive you face to face into the joy of His Father, with open arms and pierced hands, to enjoy with Him His heavenly glory. Jesus prays for His Church. Jesus prays for you. And of course now, even according to His human nature, He has authority to give you life. For He is risen! He is risen, indeed!! Alleluia!!! In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.