Today’s Author: Milt Warkentien
One of the things I find interesting, especially during Lent, is looking at what Jesus taught and how Jesus lived, verse what really happened. Since we’re only using the Gospel of John this Lenten season I’m missing out on some of my favorite parts of Jesus’ journey to the cross, but I’m also finding some new and challenging passages, too. One of the things that I hadn’t remembered, or maybe never realized, is that there is A LOT that happens at the “last supper” and afterward.
Chapter 17, for instance, is Jesus praying the entire chapter. During one of our Sunday forums, Karoline Lewis was talking about chapter 17, and she said that in this Gospel Jesus doesn’t go away to pray, so the disciples should be within earshot of Jesus. This got me thinking: would I have stayed awake while he was praying? After all, there’d been a meal, and many stories that I probably wouldn’t have comprehended. If I’d stayed awake, would I have drifted off into my own little world, or would I have heard what Jesus was praying? If I had heard Jesus praying would I really HEARD him (known what it was he was praying), or would I just have “heard” him praying (known that he was saying something)? Karoline also said she thought Jesus was praying for us. I really liked hearing her say that because I had thought the same thing when I read John 17: 17-21 “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they may be sanctified in truth. 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. (THAT’S US) As you, Father, are in me and I am you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe you have sent me.”
It think it’s amazing to hear Jesus praying for us, but then I hear the part about “that they may all be one”. As a Christian I find these words extremely haunting, as we’re now about as far a part from being one as I think possible, at least I hope it can’t go beyond what’s happening. How is it possible that people reading the same scriptures can have such opposing reactions to the “truth”? I can just see Jesus shaking his head in disbelief, muttering something along the lines of “Oh my children, what have you become”. Lord, we need your forgiveness for the division that is there. Lord, fill us with your love, so that we can live our lives as beacons of your love.
I’ll close with a prayer for the church, from the ELW p. 73 “Gracious Father, we pray for your holy catholic church. Fill it with all truth and peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where is is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in need, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.”
Mid-week devotions are authored by members of our community. If you are interested in creating a trio of reflections to be shared on an upcoming Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, contact Pastor Peter.