“It is All They Need” John 17:11b-19
The Seventh Sunday of Easter (B) 5/13/18
Pastor Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL
One simply does not tire of hearing, reading and considering our Lord’s high priestly prayer to the Father, His Father, Our Father. It says so much, reveals so much, regarding the divine and perfect relationship of the Father to the Son and the Son to the Father. It says so much, reveals so much, regarding the Father and Son’s relationship to us. It says so much, reveals so much about our Lord’s saving mission here on earth… all for us, done for us, accomplished for us and what now takes place in the days that remain until our dear Lord and Savior returns to us on the last day which draws ever so close.
We have here Christ’s intimate and loving prayer to God the Father, but nevertheless meant to be heard and heeded by us and all the faithful, so that we may take note and certainly take heart in these latter days… these last days.
And right up front, we rejoice in what our Lord has to say regarding the fact that while He was here on earth, He kept His followers, every last one of them… in the Father’s name… kept in the name the Father has given Him… they who are perfectly one. And in this, the Name that is above all names, we are one in Christ… one in the Father. We who were baptized in the holy name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and still bare His name, confess His name, and live out our days in His name.
In addition to being lovingly “kept” by our Lord, all who were brought into His holy flock He has also guarded. Guarded by the Good Shepherd… our Good Shepherd. Guarded in a way and to a degree that we cannot begin to imagine.
And as a result of such guarding, His guarding, none of His precious sheep have been lost. What is more, none of them ever will be! This includes you and me. Not one of us will be lost to sin, death and the devil and therefor lost eternally… unless we, like Judas, betray our Lord, betray His Word, betray the all-important saving faith that is born from, springs forth from… His Word.
Indeed, in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world… He who is the very Son of God… we are firmly kept… closely guarded… and lovingly given what was just mentioned… the all-sufficient Word of God. The Word wherein lies the love of God, the forgiveness of God, the freedom of God, the wisdom of God, the truth of God, the guidance of God, the peace, power and protection of God. It is all there… HERE… in His Word.
How poignant and powerful is Christ’s declaration to the Father, “I have given them your word.” My friends, we would do well to spend our remaining days here on earth considering the same, pondering the same… rejoicing in the same.
“I have given them your word.” Just hearing that should evoke a deep sigh of relief and fill us with great joy and peace. Christ our Savior having given us the Word of the Father… the Words of eternal life. Indeed, in Jesus saying, praying, to the Father, “I have given them your word” He is literally declaring “I have given myself to them for I am Your Word, Father… Your Word made flesh… that they may be one as We are one.”
How important all this is. How crucial and critical. How essential. And this all comes out in the next verses where Jesus says, “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.”
Here, we have so clearly stated for us the reality of being a Christian, the reality of being a true believer, a faithful follower and disciple… the reality of being the Lord’s own.
We will be hated because of Jesus. We will be hated because of His Word. How important, my friends, that we understand this, come to terms with this and by no means downplay or dismiss this. Why? Because otherwise we are living with false assumptions… with a false and potentially fatal conception of what is and what will be… of what will only intensify as the end approaches.
We will not be slightly disliked, simply dismissed, brushed aside and ignored. Rather, we will be actively “hated!” The Word our Lord uses here is very clear. The Greek word means “to be hated… to be pursued with hatred… to be detested.” What part of that do we not understand or refuse to accept? What part of that are we not preaching and teaching to young and old and everyone in between. Not scaring, but rather in preparing.
“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.” The reality of it is – as with our Savior, so with us. It will be… it is right now… the same with us. Scripture says it. Scripture presents it… this, what we know as the theology of the cross… this, the fact that suffering comes before glory and we wouldn’t have it any other way because it is literally the Lord’s way! As He bore His cross, so shall we… ours, though, made infinitely lighter and fully bearable… all doable… by Christ’s saving work… by Christ’s saving Word. Are you sure Pastor? Because what I am going through is difficult. What I face is daunting. The immediate reality of my life or that of others I love is pretty dim and dark, downright depressing and oh-so stressing. I want it all to end.
And it will… in God’s perfect time… in God’s perfect way. But in the meantime, we have our loving God – Father Son and Holy Spirit – to see us through each and every day. We have His all sufficient Word and the Blessed Sacraments. We have His body, the Church, were these the Means of Grace come to us.
It is all that we need. As it was all that they needed – the Apostles and the small band of believers who accompanied our Lord during His last days here on earth… those who would make up the early Christian Church following Christ’s ascension into heaven.
Given what they were facing then and the incredible persecution yet to come, our Lord could have prayed to the Father to take the faithful then… and now… out of this world. But He does not. There was no need to and every reason not to… every reason to have them… have us… remain in the world… sent out into the world… to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ… to bring others to a living faith in Jesus that they may be spared from eternal death as we have been.
Look what our Lord says to His Father… our Father: “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”
Christ… His Word… His truth… and all that is ours in Him – it is all that they… and we… need. To live our lives in the shadow of the cross, proclaiming to one and all the victory that is ours in Jesus. To share the love that is ours in Jesus. Thanks be to God and to Him alone the glory. Amen!