05162021 – JOHN 17. 6-19
Last evening, I tried to keep it “lite” as the Season of Easter begins to wind down.
But “my sense was” that people wanted a little bit more MEAT, so Saturday night received “a lite version” while you guys are receiving “a little more depth.” God only knows where we will go with this come Wednesday night. So here goes…
John is a tough gospel to preach on and our Gospel text for this morning is a case in point.
Our Gospel is but a part of what has been called, “Jesus’ Farewell Discourse” or as I mentioned earlier, as “Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer.”
Apparently “the Farewell Discourse” is NOW, the preferable designation.
And again, as I have mentioned over the last couple of weeks, the context was Maundy Thursday, Holy Thursday, the night of the arrest and the first-quick-hastily-thrown-together-trial.
We know it BEST as being “the night of the Last Supper.”
Jesus has washed the disciples’ feet. He has spoken about “the Commandment to Love,” and Judas has already departed – out into the night. So, we know the clock is ticking loudly.
Then, Jesus begins this long monologue about his “impending death” and “his ultimate departure.”
Jesus talks and talks and talks some more. It is not easy for anyone to listen to a soliloquy.
It actually amounts to four full chapters in John’s gospel and includes 117 verses of the scripture.
Jesus talks a lot…and he talks for a long time…pretty much, non-stop. And probably without a water bottle nearby.
IT IS A LOT OF WORDS. Sometimes, it is repetitious.
Sometimes you get the impression that Jesus is talking to the disciples, sometimes, it sounds like he is talking directly to God, and sometimes, it sounds like he is just simply talking out loud…talking to himself…or talking to whomever…randomly.
Is he perhaps, playing things out in his mind, visualizing them as he is talking?
Almost as if, he himself, is attempting to “work it all out,” and “put it together” in his own head…for his own frame of reference.
He appears to be trying to make sense out of his own impending death, and the disciples “attempting” to continue on with his work, after the ascension.
Just how EXACTLY is this ALL going to play itself out? How will it all end?
So, it is a rather complex-prayer-monologue-soliloquy…that is anything but simple. It is complicated. It is rambling. It is circular. At times it is difficult to follow. So, it can be a wee bit confusing. It moves back and forth…and it even folds in on itself.
This prayer is about Jesus. BUT it is also about the disciples. It is also about his relationship with the father.
And for our part, it is, as if, we are listening in…leaning in…overhearing …and we are NOT AT ALL embarrassed by any of our own eavesdropping.
Jesus prays…Jesus asks…Jesus almost demands…Jesus seeks protection for the disciples.
He asks that God protects them from the “EVIL ONE.” And that they be “sanctified in Truth.”
The Greek word here is “hagios” and it could mean “to make holy,” “to consecrate” or “to sanctify,” or “to dedicate,” or “to separate.” Jesus is asking God to make his disciples – “holy…”
Keep them separate from this world.
The Evangelist (the Gospel writer) even says that “Jesus was troubled IN spirit.”
Philip, one of the twelve, actually went so far as to say, “Show us the father and we will be satisfied.” Jesus could not believe either the question or Philip. Just what was the last three years about? He was like DUH? Philip, don’t you know me? How can you say show me the father?
Come on guys, work with me…
Jesus just told the disciples, “If you love me…you will keep my commandments.
And we have to ask was there any doubt about “their love for him,” and about “their commitment?” Were the disciples wavering? Was Jesus barely hanging on to them by a thread?
Was Jesus feeling very much alone? And cornered?
And besides all of this, Jesus KNOWS, he knows, they will ALL abandon him and ultimately run away…They will scatter…all of them…NICE, here I am…and all of this is going on at the same time, Judas has left, you guys are looking sleepy…and I am about to die. NICE.
Sometimes our backs are up against the wall, and there is no place to go. No wiggle room. And things can look pretty dark and bleak as the clock ticks loudly.
But the important thing for us, is that Jesus did not waver. He remained faithful. He forged ahead. He walked out the door and headed for the Garden of Gethsemane.
And (according to John) he knew what he was doing…and why he was doing it. He had become self-assured. Amen.