Seventh Sunday of Easter
Psalm 97; John 17

Lectionary Text for Seventh Sunday of Easter:

Psalm 97:
“The LORD is king! Let the earth rejoice;   let the many coastlands be glad! 2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;   righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. 3 Fire goes before him,   and consumes his adversaries on every side. 4 His lightnings light up the world;   the earth sees and trembles. 5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,   before the Lord of all the earth.

6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness;   and all the peoples behold his glory. 7 All worshippers of images are put to shame,   those who make their boast in worthless idols;   all gods bow down before him. 8 Zion hears and is glad,   and the towns of Judah rejoice,   because of your judgements, O God. 9 For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth;   you are exalted far above all gods.

10 The LORD loves those who hate evil;   he guards the lives of his faithful;   he rescues them from the hand of the wicked. 11 Light dawns for the righteous,   and joy for the upright in heart. 12 Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous,   and give thanks to his holy name.

John 17: 20-26: “20 ‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 ‘Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Seventh Sunday of Easter Comment: Without hesitation, I can say, this is my favorite chapter in the life of Jesus. The entire chapter is a prayer, an intercessory prayer. The scene is Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem, the night before he dies. Jesus’ petition is single-mindedly focused on union and unity, “that they may be one, as we are one…”

The prayer begins as Jesus acknowledges his life’s mission before the Father. He prays, “Father, the time has come, glorify your Son that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all men that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him This is eternal life, that they (the disciples) may know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3. Jesus defines eternal life as knowing God. In my childhood I was taught and heard in sermons that eternal life is continuing to live on after death in heaven with God forever. Indeed this is true, but Jesus is emphasizing a radical change in relationship with God that takes place in the present.

This word knowing is an intimate word, a word of union. We read in Genesis 4:1, “Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain…” In Psalm 46:10 this word appears as “Be still and know that I am God.” Eternal life, which begins in the here and now to all who believe (John 3:16), is being in the wonderful, marvelous, unspeakably joyous position of knowing and getting to know God, more deeply and more fully, forever! But there is more; this “knowing” produces newness as we are being transformed into the image of Christ. How does that image look? It is an image that reflects a love that never abandons; it is a soul that pours out contagious joy, peace no ‘storm’ can overpower and patience that rests in hope; it reflects the gentleness of the God of all comfort and displays goodness that always sees the best; it is the face of faith that endures, humility that identifies with weakness and self-control that tames the tongue and sharpens the ear.

But there’s more! Jesus prayed not only for the disciples that were present with him, but for all who would believe because of their message. This includes you and me. “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.” The great even that burst opened the conduit of grace, which pours into our lives because of this prayer was the resurrection and in its glow we still bask. Hallelujah! Alleluia!

He is risen indeed,
Rev Julia
© May 11, 2010

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