7 th Sun. of Easter

Acts 16:16-34

John 17:20-26

Prayer…. O, Lord our God, may the words of my mouth and the mediation of our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our strength and redeemer. Amen.

Today our text is just part of a long discourse Jesus will have with his 12 disciples on Passover night. John dedicates 5 chapters to this final discourse Jesus will have with his hand-picked disciples. John wants the reader….his church in the late first century…to know in detail what Jesus’ parting words are. It is Thursday evening and Jesus gathers his chosen twelve and has some final parting words with them. Can you imagine Jesus’ mindset…he knows within a number of hours he will be crucified….killed as the sacrificial lamb is slaughtered in the temple. The disciples don’t seem to gather what is about to take place as Jesus speaks to them. They have no clue where he is going, who his Father is or who this strange Spirit is that will come.

By the time we enter our text today, Judas has departed to betray Jesus, so Jesus has one last thing to offer his beloved disciples….he will pray for them, not only them, but the church that they will establish. Can you imagine what’s in his mind….but love supersedes his agony, emotion, or feelings. Gospel and Epistle writers have given clues how much Jesus loves his disciples and us….Jh. 3:16….”For God so loved the world”…Rom. 5:8…”But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.”….1Jh. 4:9-10….”God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he love us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Jesus prays for unity, between the disciples, and the church that will be, through their witnessing. Many times in Jesus’ earthly ministry the disciples didn’t display this unity very well. At one point arguing who will be the greatest in heaven, and who will sit at Jesus’ side. In the late first century when John wrote this gospel, there was a riff between John’s church and Peter’s church. Seems Peter’s church thought they had it right in worshiping, after all Peter held the keys to the kingdom. John on the other hand was the beloved of Jesus; they knew they had the right way to worship. Does this sound familiar? How many times have we thought of other churches as we and them? Remember, one Lord, one church, one baptism. Jesus’ final words in this prayer are that his followers will have the same love that was between Jesus and the Father.

So which road do we chose to reflect on, unity or the love Jesus displayed. I am going down the road of God’s love, and in my opinion unity will accompany kinda like the Holy Spirit accompanies us. Let’s look at the love the world pushes first. John in his gospel speaks of two opposing forces in the world, light (God) and darkness (evil, Satan). The worlds love is conditional. It’s what we do, that makes us loved. I’m going to give you a few moments to think about how society pushes its love….commercials, attitudes, relationships….wear this, do this, attend this, know the right people….Like I mentioned above…this love is conditional….if you get it wrong you are un-loved. What does God’s love look like? First, you are loved first by God….remember Rom. 5:8. We do nothing to get God’s love, it’s God’s nature to love us. From 1Jh. 4:8….”Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

God “Jesus” loves us so much he took out time in his last hours alive to pray for us. This love is something we can carry with each and every day. Life’s trials….sickness, aging, death of a spouse, love-one, medical…constant pain, diseases that restricts us, financial disasters..Losing job, sudden life changing accidents….and the list can be extensive. In any of these and many more things….it is good, and consoling to know that Jesus, God, in the entity of the Holy Spirit accompanies us in all life’s trials, and remember also in our joy. Yes, God does enjoy a good party…remember Jesus (G0D) attending the weeding at Cana. It’s good to know that on Jesus’ last night on earth he prays for us. He will never abandon us, because on this night he promises the coming of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit who will be present in his absence. Stay tuned for more because next week we will celebrate the arrival of this Spirit. Thanks be to God. O, yes, be sure to wear red next Sunday…Pastor Tanya will be delivering the Word.