April 11, 2020
John 17 is one of my favourite parts of scripture to read. I mean, there are many other verses or beautiful parts of the Bible that impact me personally, yet John 17 is special.
If you haven’t read it in a while, or if you are stuck in your Bible reading plan (which I often am, so no shame in that…) or maybe you just need a little direction of where you want to read your Bible today - go ahead and read John 17. Read it slowly, pick a translation that you like (I’ve been reading in the NLT because it has just been refreshingly simple! Oh, I also recommend the GNT, it’s nice.) and re-read it a couple of times. I do that often, especially when I have trouble focusing my thoughts.
The thing that I love about John 17 is that this is not a teaching of Jesus or a significant moment of Jesus, yet it is a prayer. And I ask myself, what is more personal than a prayer? This piece of scripture is so incredibly intimate because these are Jesus’s words to the Father that are said in private.
When I think of prayer - I think it of my conversations with God. So often, it’s me coming before Jesus, being completely vulnerable and raw before Him. I mean, what’s the point of pretending to be perfect or whole when He sees it all? I can’t hide from him. I mean, I can pretend, and He can be very patient with me in it, but really… it's not going to be helpful for anyone if we are not completely ourselves in His presence.
The most stunning this about this though is that He accepts my prayers with no rebuke or shame. And He is - oh so gracious and patient with me.
My prayers are so often are a reflection of where I am at, what I am struggling with, what I need or what I am afraid of. My prayers are also thoughts of praise –– I worship Jesus through them. I confess my love and affection towards him. I tell him about my longing to be with him and how much I miss him sometimes and how much I want to be reunited with him soon. Again - super personal. And somewhat, frankly embarrassing because I mean, if you have ever been in love - there is a reason you like things to be private… its safe but also intimate and not for everyone to see. Idk… some might disagree.
But anyway, going back to John 17. When I read this piece of Scripture - I feel like I am being invited into the personal parts of Jesus. This is His prayer to the Father, and it is beautiful.
First, he prays about himself. And You can see Jesus’s love for the Father and the longing he feels to be back in glory with HIM. He misses his Father and he misses his home. The world was not his home and I believe that Jesus felt that deeply throughout his life. (just as we do too, might I add…) Jesus loves the Father with His whole heart and with his whole life. What a beautiful glimpse this is of their relationship that is perfect and complete. (As a highly relational person who is also values idealism - this gives me all the fuzz my heart needs).
Then He prays for his disciples - his friends whom he loves dearly and ones that he will have to leave soon. Oh man, you can see the care that Jesus has for them. The sadness and dare I say, almost worry?… well, maybe not worry but concern…for his friends because He won’t be with them anymore. He asks for protection over them, for them to know truth and for them to be sanctified as they spiritually mature throughout their lives. I can imagine Jesus almost grieving at this point, because leaving is difficult and he probably will miss them until they are reunited in heaven.
His next prayer is for all of the believers - and so that is when you and I come in. In this part of scripture - Jesus is praying to the Father for me and you. If you have any doubts that Jesus cares for you. Read this part. His love is very much real for you. He knew about you and thousands of years ago - he prayed these words for you.
Again, prayer can be an incredibly intimate thing and I know in my life, personally - I feel so so loved and supported when people choose to pray for me (to intercede on my behalf). To bring their care for me to God. So, in this part of scripture, seeing Jesus praying for ME, is quite surreal and I feel loved. And so should you.
Jesus prays for love. For (perfect) unity. For faith. For us to eventually reunite with Him in heaven. He prays for intimacy to be there between us and Him (comparing His relationship with the Father for reference…) and also for us to experience intimacy with each other.
I don’t know about you - but I want that in my life with my relationships. I want that to be seen in our churches today. I want to see communities being safe places for people to be themselves and to be loved and also to be growing as individuals. I want to see people be confident in Jesus and to see a community gathering together in times of hardship (because hardship is real and it will come).
Honestly? I think this is a time of hardship for us as a church. Covid came out of nowhere and everything stopped. We are all going through something and if we are pretending to not be affected by this - well, then I think you should take a moment to check your heart. The thing is - we are all grieving. But man, wouldn't it be wonderful if we lived in the process of answering Jesus’ prayer? Not in a sense that we are perfect and we have control. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is that we all have a choice. And we can choose to love each other through this time. We can choose to not isolate ourselves but to reach out and respond (notice the respond part, cause thats also important). We can choose to spend our time getting to know Jesus intimately instead of numbing it all with screens and food. We can choose to look up, to set out MINDS and our HEARTS on Jesus. And I believe that when we choose that, Jesus will meet us wherever we are at. Because if you look at John 17 - He wanted that all along and He came and died for that very thing. I don’t think Jesus would pray or dedicate his life to and even die for this’ sake it wasn’t possible.
Read John 17. It’s a good one and my hope that through reflecting on Jesus’s heart towards his Father, his friends, and us - that there would be a sense of purpose that is cultivated in your heart today. Especially in times like these.
Thats all. 😊