Scripture: John 17:1-26
Key verse: (23) “I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Reflection: Today Christians around the world will observe, “Maundy Thursday,” by gathering to worship, remembering the Last Supper, celebrating communion, and following the story to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was betrayed and taken into custody, setting in motion his trial, torture and death on Good Friday. The name, “Maundy,” comes from the Latin, mandatum, meaning mandate or command. This derives from the words of institution, “Do this remembering me,” and from his command in John 13 to love one another given after he washes the disciple’s feet.
In John’s version of the Last Supper, after a lengthy farewell speech, Jesus offers what scholars call, “The High Priestly Prayer.” This is our reading for today. If you typically just read the key verse, I would encourage you to read the whole prayer today. Knowing Jesus prayed for us, reading how he prayed for us and what he prayed for us will bless you on this holy day. Jesus’ words weave together a beautiful tapestry using the threads of first, second and third person pronouns. “I in them and you in me.” “All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I have been glorified in them.” “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us.” If the threads of this beautiful tapestry are the pronouns, then the world and the kingdom of God are the “warp” and the “weft” of the weaving loom—the longitudinal and latitudinal threads, woven in opposite directions. We do not belong to the world, just as Christ did not belong to the world. The world is hostile to the Word, yet as God sent Christ into the world, so Christ sends us into the world. The tapestry woven by all this is love. It is done, “so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them,” as Jesus concludes his prayer.
Like Maundy Thursday, this week in our world has been filled with sin and evil, with tragic death, with painful reminders of the fragile nature of our existence. We witnessed the destruction of African American churches in Louisiana at the hands of a white supremacist, seeing the evil that is too real in this world assaulting Christ’s church. We witnessed the body-cam video of a Charlotte police officer shooting and killing a Charlotte citizen, seeing the complexities that exist on the front lines of our world where life and death decisions are made every day, and where too often those fragile moments tip in the direction of death for young, African American men like Danquirs Franklin. The fragile world we live in was revealed in the tragic fire that consumed so much of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Almost 300 years to build to completion, over 800 years of worship, and a matter of hours to bring it to ruin. Such is the nature of this world in which we live. It is so fragile, so transitory. Indeed, it is passing away.
Jesus’ high priestly prayer reminds us that it is into this world we are sent. We are sent to live out the love of God we know in Christ Jesus, so that He might be in us, and we in Him, so that we may be one. Or as Jesus put it at the conclusion of his prayer, “so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” God knows this world needs such love this holiest of weeks. See you in worship tonight at 7 in the sanctuary.
Prayer: For your love lived out for us this holiest of weeks, we thank you, O God. May your love embodied in Christ live in us and we in you so that the world will know that you are love, and that those who abide in love abide in you and you in them. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].