Seventh Sunday of Easter | May 16, 2010
Psalm 97 (12)
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
Prayer of the Day
O God, form the minds of your faithful people into your one will. Make us love what you command and desire what you promise, that, amid all the changes of this world, our hearts may be fixed where true joy is found, your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Alleluia. I will not leave you orphaned, | says the Lord.
I am com- | ing to you. Alleluia. (John 14:18)
1a. CONTEXT: John 17:20-26
THE LAST DISCOURSE: Division Three (Unit 3)
These verses follow Unit One (vv. 1-5, Jesus' prayer
for himself), Unit Two (vv. 6-19, Jesus' prayer for his
disciples), and form Unit Three of the High Priestly
Prayer in Chapter 17. Unit Three consists of Jesus'
prayer for the Church universal - that it might be indwelt
by God and the Son, expressing their unity in love, and
thus fulfilling the mission of leading the world to
believe. As the Discourse draws to its close, the meaning
of the paschal mystery proclaimed at the beginning of the
meal - the return of God in complete love, of all who
belong to God - is made evident.
Twice before, Jesus has spoken of the life of union now
opening for his disciples. If the viewpoint is that of
the Last Supper, then the believers are a present reality.
In Unit Three, Jesus turns his attention directly to the
future, foreseeing success in the mission of the disciples.
The prayer for the disciples in Unit Two also had in
mind future Christians, since the disciples are living
symbols of what believers should be; but now the future orientation is more direct.
Not only does Jesus foresee a community on earth
confessing his name (vv. 21-23); he also yearns for the
eschatological deliverance of that community, so that its
members will be with him, where he is (vv. 24-26).
1b. TEXT: John 17: 20-26
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.
26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
20Οὐ περὶ τούτων δὲ ἐρωτῶ μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ τῶν πιστευόντων διὰ τοῦ λόγου αὐτῶν εἰς ἐμέ, 21ἵνα πάντες ἓν ὦσιν, καθὼς σύ, πάτερ, ἐν ἐμοὶ κἀγὼ ἐν σοί, ἵνα καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἡμῖν ὦσιν, ἵνα ὁ κόσμος πιστεύῃ ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας. 22κἀγὼ τὴν δόξαν ἣν δέδωκάς μοι δέδωκα αὐτοῖς, ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν καθὼς ἡμεῖς ἕν, 23ἐγὼ ἐν αὐτοῖς καὶ σὺ ἐν ἐμοί, ἵνα ὦσιν τετελειωμένοι εἰς ἕν, ἵνα γινώσκῃ ὁ κόσμος ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας καὶ ἠγάπησας αὐτοὺς καθὼς ἐμὲ ἠγάπησας. 24Πάτερ, ὃ δέδωκάς μοι, θέλω ἵνα ὅπου εἰμὶ ἐγὼ κἀκεῖνοι ὦσιν μετ' ἐμοῦ, ἵνα θεωρῶσιν τὴν δόξαν τὴν ἐμὴν ἣν δέδωκάς μοι, ὅτι ἠγάπησάς με πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου. 25πάτερ δίκαιε, καὶ ὁ κόσμος σε οὐκ ἔγνω, ἐγὼ δέ σε ἔγνων, καὶ οὗτοι ἔγνωσαν ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας, 26καὶ ἐγνώρισα αὐτοῖς τὸ ὄνομά σου καὶ γνωρίσω, ἵνα ἡ ἀγάπη ἣν ἠγάπησάς με ἐν αὐτοῖς ᾖ κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτοῖς.
2. ANALYSIS: John 17: 20-26
THE LAST DISCOURSE: Division Three (Unit Three)
[ou peri touton de eroto monon, alla kai peri ton
pisteuonton dia tou logou auton sis eme ] In the Greek
word order the first of these two phrases follows the
second (v. 20); thus, it would be possible to translate
as: "Believe through their word about me." The idea is
not too far from that of Rom. 10: 14 and Heb. 2: 3-4.
There is a remarkable grammatical parallelism between vv.
20-21 and vv. 22-23. In particular, note the following:
21a [hina] that they may all be one; 21b [kathos ]
just as You in me, etc;
21c [hina] that they also may, etc.; 21d [hina]
Thus the world may, etc.;
22b [hina] that they may be one; 22c [kathos]
just as we are one, etc.;
23b [hina] that they may be brought; 23c [hina] Thus
the world may come.
Each of these blocks of four consists of three [hina]
clauses, with a [kathos] clause separating the first and second.
The first and second [hina] clause in each involves the
oneness of the believers, while the third involves the
effect on the world. The second [hina] clause does not
merely repeat the first, but further develops the idea of
unity. The [kathos] clause in each block holds up for the
believers the model of the unity of Jesus and God.
[Kathos] has both a comparative and a causative force
here: divine-human unit (Word-made-flesh), is both the
model and the source of the unity of believers. The model
of unity is, for the Johannine writer, the mutual
indwelling of God and the Son.
The Johannine statements about unity imply both a
horizontal and a vertical dimension. The unity involves
the relation of the believers to God and to the Son
(vertical), and the relation of the believers among
The latter dimension is found in all the statements
stressing love of one another that we have found in the
Last Discourse (13: 34-35, 15: 12, 17); see also the theme
of community with one another in 1 John 1: 7. Thus, unity
for the Johannine writer is not reducible to a mystical
relationship with God. Nor is it simply human community
or the harmonious interaction of Christians.
We should note that introducing God, as well as the
Son into the unity, goes beyond the unity imaged in the
Pauline Body of Christ. The relationship between God and
the Son involves more than moral union; the two are
related because God gives life to the Son. After the same
manner, Christians are one with one another and with God
and the Son, because they have received of this life.
In Johannine thought, Jesus, during his lifetime, was
the tabernacle of God embodying divine glory; and now in a
covenantal setting, he promises to give to his followers
the glory that God gave to him. Jesus, who will be
acclaimed by his followers as Lord and God, in the last
words that he speaks to them during his mortal life, prays
that after death he "may be in them."
3. STRATEGY: John 17: 20-26
THE LAST DISCOURSE: Division Three (Unit Three)
In preaching from this text, again, our challenge is in
the realm of anamnesis. Our union in Christ is a reality
here and now. It is not a promise for the future only,
but a promise fulfilled.
And yet, the fulfilled promise has an ongoing future.
All of us receive the gift of Christ Life into ongoing
personal lives. This is true of each and is equally true
of the ongoing interpersonal life of the whole community,
gathered into Oneness in Christ over space and time. We
cannot miss the call to mission and ecumenism, either.
We are confronted with incarnational, sacramental
theology, from beginning to end, in the Last Discourse.
It is union open without limit, embracing all given the
Son by God. The divine-human unity of incarnation is
unique - it alone can encompass all, beginning in Christ
and ceaselessly extending to draw in all. How did the
first disciples come to believe? They themselves
encountered, came to know and love Jesus; and then through
the Spirit, they came to recognize that he is the total
embodiment of all God is.
Finally, to be with Christ where he is, is to be with
him as he lives here with us. It is here that we see his
glory and recognize that it is "love," the self-gift of
God to persons. The more we see and recognize persons in
our lives as those to whom God is given and giving, the
more we behold Christ in glory. Christ loves all
completely, to the end. Lord and Master of all, he serves
all who are called into the Great Supper and Feast of the Lord.
4. REFERENCES: John 17: 20-26
Brown, Raymond E. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN,
XIII-XXI. Gardenn n City, NY: Doubleday and Co., 1970, pp. 769, 773-74, 776, 781.
THE NEW OXFORD ANNOTATED BIBLE, RSV, AN ECUMENICAL STUDY BIBLE.
Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, eds., New
York: Oxford University Press, 1973, pp. 1311-1312.
SYNOPSIS OF THE FOUR GOSPELS. Kurt Aland, ed.,
Wurttembergische Bibelanstalt, Stuttgart/West Germany: United States Biblem Societies, 1975, p. 296.
Whitson, Robley Edward. THE CENTER SCRIPTURES. Bristol,
Indiana: The United Institute, Wyndham Hall Press, 1987,
pp. 75-76, 81.
Exegete: The Rev. Dr. Carol M. Worthing, D. Min.(ELCA, Ret’d) earned a M.Div. degree in 1982 from the Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Paul. Carol earned a P.h.D in theological studies from the Graduate Theological Foundation in 2002, and in the same year was honored as the John Macquarrie Fellow for the superior quality of her dissertation. She was chosen by the Cathedral Council to serve as preacher at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. in November of 2002. Carol Worthing has returned to Edina, Minn. where she currently resides.
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