Today is know in the Christian world as Maundy Thursday. If the recent findings of a British study are correct, we have been celebrating the Last Supper on the wrong day of the Holy Week for many centuries; according to the study, it should be Wednesday if we are interested in following the steps of Christ chronologically. As today’s text makes very clear, it is the meaning, not the precise timing, to which believers attach their faith and from which they draw their mission. An extended passage today, John 17:12-26:
12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may 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 to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
So much to reflect on in this passage; where does one begin? The opposition which will always exist between “the world” and the followers of Christ? That might give us pause when we are tempted to think that people will like us if they only understand us better. The fact is that those who are “of the world” understand perfectly that our purpose is at odds with their desires and they have no intention of yielding. Maybe we begin with the sanctification, here used clearly in the sense of being set apart for God’s use. Just what that use might be and how it is to be enacted then becomes a critical concern. Do we start with the concept of “the truth” in which or for which or by which we ar set apart? Do we focus on the nature of the unity for which Jesus prays?
My purpose today is not to discuss the relative merits of each of these ideas. Instead it is to encourage all who know Christ and all who want to know Him to participate in worship at the table of the Lord today. And as you do, recall this passage and how our Lord prayed for us before he died for us and for our salvation.
Please share any thoughts that come to mind through the words of the passage for the day–and on what it means to have Jesus pray these words on our behalf.