Today’s gospel reading is first and foremost a prayer. It is Jesus’ prayer, and we are given the privilege of listening in as he prays on behalf of his disciples and people of all times and places. Listeners are given a glimpse of Jesus’ mission for the world—that all may be drawn into the life of the triune God. On the eve of his death, Jesus entrusts this particular community of disciples—but also our communities, our lives, and our world—into the care of God.
What is it Jesus is doing when he prays? What is it the church does when it prays on behalf of the world and other people? To be prayed for by another is to know one’s life is cared for and has value to the one praying on your behalf. It is to know that much of the future is out of one’s own control but rests instead in the care of the Triune God. To be prayed for is to be vulnerable, dependent, and deeply loved.
Here is the astoundingly good news: Jesus prays for you, and for the communities in which we find ourselves. Whether your cup is empty or full, whether your community is in crisis or experiencing joy, whether your future is foggy or clear, Jesus loves you deeply and your life is bound to the God who loved you before the foundations of the world. On the eve of his death, Jesus entrusted your life and the church’s life and its entire future to the Father. What glorious good news that the future rests in the care of the Triune God, and that we, the church, are set free to make God known to the world.
Gospel: John 17:20-26
Jesus prays that the life of his followers will be characterized by an intimate unity of identity with God. To be so identified with God means also to share in God’s mission: to proclaim the word that will bring others into this same unity.
[Jesus prayed:] 20“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I 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. 24Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
25“Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”