Jesus says farewell – part twenty (John 17)

Today we conclude our series through Jesus’ farewell speech in John 14-17. 

This week we’ve been contemplating this part of Jesus’ high priestly prayer, in John 17:

John 17:20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you 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. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

What have we learned out so far?

Continue reading

Jesus says farewell – part nineteen (John 17)

We’re continuing in our series through Jesus’ farewell speech in John 14-17. 

So far, we’ve looked at Jesus’ prayer that his church might be one (John 17:20-21) and asked what went wrong? Should we be pursuing unity at all costs – like many would encourage us to do? Before we get to answering that, yesterday we made two important points: that unity doesn’t have to be organisational unity; and that there is a fair amount of functional unity between like-minded Christian groups. Today, we ask an even more fundamental question: must the call to unity take priority over truth?

Continue reading

Jesus says farewell – part eighteen (John 17)

We’re continuing in our series through Jesus’ farewell speech in John 14-17. 

Yesterday, we looked at Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-21 that we – his church – might be united, might be one. Let’s read part of that prayer again:

John 17:20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you 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. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

And, in the light of church history and the proliferation of different denominations today, asked: what went wrong?

Continue reading

Jesus says farewell – Part Seventeen (John 17)

We’re continuing in our series through Jesus’ farewell speech in John 14-17. 

The final part of Jesus’ farewell speech records Jesus’ prayer. It’s often called Jesus’ “high priestly prayer,” as he prays on behalf of his people: the disciples gathered around him, and also – quite specifically – for all who would believe in the future through their witness. Which includes us.  Take a look at verses 20-21:

John 17:20-21 My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.

Jesus prays for us. He prays for the future church that would be established. Specifically, he prays for its unity – that we would be one.

Which makes you ask – when you look at all of the different denominations and groupings of Christians in the world, not to mention the arguments and even wars that have been fought along those lines – it makes you ask: what went wrong?

Continue reading

Jesus says farewell – Part Sixteen (John 16)

We’re continuing in our series through Jesus’ farewell speech in John 14-17. 

Yesterday, we saw how Jesus comforted his disciples ahead of what would be a long, dark weekend. He pointed forward to his resurrection – when they would see him again – as a time of joy in their future. Not just because they’d see him (briefly) again, because it would change everything. And we were reminded that for us, that joy doesn’t lie in our future, but in our present. The resurrection is the source of our present joy.

The resurrection is the basis of our future hope

But we still have a future hope, because we haven’t yet received the full measure of our salvation. There’s a tension between the already and the not-yet – precisely because we are not yet face to face with Jesus, in the age to come.

Continue reading

Jesus says farewell – Part Fifteen (John 16)

We’re continuing in our series through Jesus’ farewell speech in John 14-17. 

We’re getting towards the end of Jesus’ farewell speech. A speech given on the brink of an historic weekend. Thursday evening, the night before the Passover. The start of a long weekend which would see Jesus tried, tortured, and put to death on a cross. One that would leave the disciples frightened, scattered, and hopeless. But would end with great joy as Jesus came back from the dead.

In today’s passage (John 16:16-33), Jesus attempts to comfort his disciples, preparing them for the long, dark weekend ahead:

Continue reading

Jesus says farewell – Part Twelve (John 15)

We’re continuing in our series through Jesus’ farewell speech in John 14-17. This week is all about friendship with Jesus. We’ve seen how friendship with Jesus was friendship of the highest order, in that he was prepared to lay down his life for us, his friends. The response to this act of friendship ought to be loyal obedience, yet this is done not as a “slave” but as an intimate friend who’s been let into the inner circle. Today, we see how friendship with Jesus means that we have a task to do.

Friendship with Jesus means we have a job to do

John 15:16a “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.”

In a first-century friendship between unequals, friends were often given tasks to do on behalf of their benefactors; to act as their agents. In Greek thought, friends were referred to as a ‘second self.’ Letters that survive from the period show that it was common for writers to urge that a friend be welcomed and treated ‘as if he were me.’

Continue reading

Jesus says farewell – Part Eleven (John 15)

We’re continuing in our series through Jesus’ farewell speech in John 14-17. This week is all about friendship with Jesus. We’ve seen how friendship with Jesus was friendship of the highest order, in that he was prepared to lay down his life for us, his friends. The response to this act of friendship ought to be loyal obedience. Today, we see how friendship with Jesus involves intimacy. 

Friendship with Jesus involves intimacy

We saw yesterday that a friend of Jesus is obedient. But this doesn’t mean mindlessly obeying orders. There is an intimacy on offer whereby we are let into Jesus ‘inner circle’:

Continue reading

Jesus says farewell – Part Ten (John 15)

We’re continuing in our series through Jesus’ farewell speech in John 14-17. This week is all about friendship with Jesus. Yesterday, we saw how friendship with Jesus was friendship of the highest order, in that he was prepared to lay down his life for us, his friends. Today, we look at the obligations of those who are Jesus’ friends. 

A friend of Jesus is obedient

Our friendship started with Jesus’ laying down his life for us. It was his initiative; verse 16 says that he chose us to be his friends. Now we are in his debt. We owe him a debt we can’t repay, and so we become his grateful, loyal ‘friends’. And that friendship – like all friendships – has some obligations:

Continue reading