7th Sunday of Easter

by Crossings

John 17:1-11
(Seventh Sunday of Easter)
analysis by Robin Morgan


1After Jesus had spoken these word, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. 6I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”

DIAGNOSIS: Lack-luster existence

Step 1-Initial Diagnosis: Lifeless in our world
John 17, Christ’s “high priestly prayer,” is for the unity of those who believe in Jesus (v. 11), as a witness to the world of their mission and beliefs (v. 21). But it doesn’t take much to observe — not even by us “believers,” let alone the world — that we have a problem with our very unity. If anything, “believers” are more frequently and more easily connected to the world’s form of unity — a unity which is lifeless, dark, a place where the “glory” does not shine. Haven’t we been assured that no century has been as corrupt and devastating to humanity and the rest of creation as the 20th century? The truth of our own connection via our place of being in this lifeless, glory-less world does not allow us the luxury of claiming Jesus’ words of life and glory as descriptive of the reality to which we belong, especially with our lack of evidence for a lively unity.

Step 2-Advanced Diagnosis: Lifeless in our hope
Indeed, when we look at ourselves, we see only darkness — at least if we are honest enough to look that hard. We regard this darkness as so powerful, so “glory-less,” that nothing can possibly change what is the reality of our lives, strive as we might. This faithless position is painful, but it seems most “faithful” to what we’ve been taught by the world, believed to be truth. Jesus may be one with the Father, but from our position as glory-less folk, we can’t imagine we ever can be.

Step 3-Final Diagnosis: Lifeless in our relationship with God
Finally, even Jesus explicitly indicates that he is not praying for the lifeless world, that which has turned its back on his kingdom (v. 9). And if our connection to this lifeless world is all that is really true about us, then it does not mean that God is dead or that we are simply beyond the pail of God’s forgiveness. God leaves us to our lifeless existence in this world. God allows us to stay in our darkness.

PROGNOSIS: Glorified, eternal living

Step 4-Initial Prognosis: The Life of Glory
Where the glory does shine in the world, however, is in the glory of the Son who is in the glorious relationship with the Father. Regardless of the world’s verdict on his life, Jesus has claimed the reality of the Father’s love and conferred authority that allows him to bring us with him. He doesn’t cover up our darkness. His real hour of glory in the world will come in fulfilling his mission, exchanging his own light and life for our darkness and lifelessness. Jesus’ words of promise in his prayer — more a pronouncement that a petition — hold true in spite of the world’s truth and God’s own critical truth about us. And what does Jesus say/pray: “you have given me authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given me” (v. 2). “All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I have been glorified in them” (v. 10).

Step 5-Advanced Prognosis: The Life in believing
So how do we get to participate in this glory which Jesus already assumes to be integral to his life with the Father and our lives with them both? We don’t have to deny the reality of our critical times, our barbarous century, but we can let Jesus sweep them into his life through faith. And as we do, we see our glory-less existence filled with the glory that only he can give. We can trust that his light is the answer to our darkness, even the answer to the darkness all around us. This kind of trust is counter-reality-living, counter-cultural, putting us at odds with the world’s indictment of us; but we can dare to claim Him as He has claimed us. We are one in Christ, as he is one with the Father.

Step 6-Final Prognosis: The Life confessed
When the world steps up to point out our failings and condemn us — as indeed it will — we needn’t dodge the charges or lie about our lives. Because Christ has claimed us, we can admit to the reality of darkness, we can admit to being one among many in our fallen humanity. However, that is not all we can do. Because of Christ’s work on our behalf, we can also claim that glory which we hear Jesus talking about with the Father — the unity which ultimately binds us together. We are witnesses to his authority over all people by living on Jesus’ word, taking the criticism and yet living beyond it, refusing to play the world’s game of condemnation, in order to draw one and all back to the Father and to the life that Jesus brings. There’s more to life than the world can possibly imagine in that kind of confessional living.


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