Monday, April 18, 2016
Jesus Prayed for Us
On the night he was arrested, Jesus prayed at least twice, first, after the supper, he prayed for himself, then the disciples, then the followers who would come to believe as a result of the disciples’ witness.
For himself he prayed not for relief of the excruciating pain that accompanied crucifixion or for strength to endure, but that the events now in motion would bring glory to God, and that he may share in that glory and also be glorified in God’s presence.(John 17:1) It is difficult, on first blush, to think of crucifixion as glory. Hours of pain, burning thirst, and tormented muscles are translated into joy by the anticipation of reunion with God the Father.
He prayed for the Disciples that they may be aware and understand the gravity and depth of what they have shared during the teaching and training and that they have known that he came from God and was ready to return to God. (John 17:3) He prayed that the disciples may experience the same unity and harmony that Jesus shared with God the Father.(John 17:13-14) He wanted them to be protected in the world, not taken out of it. He wanted them to be uplifted and blessed by his assurance of the Father’s love and presence. John 14:13 was the ultimate promise, that whatever they asked in his name, he would do. But John 17 is the upgraded and supersized version of that promise. Glory with Jesus in the name of God the Father is a promise to cherish and depend on.
In John 17:20 he includes us, those who would believe because of the testimony of the Disciples; that’s all of us. He says he expects all of us to be one, as the Father is in Him. He wants us to share in the same experience and joy and communion he shares with God the Father. May we be one as they are one. He seeks God’s glory for all of us. He claims it based on the love he shared with God the Father, and he included the Disciples and now us, too.
It’s easy to think of this as weakening and diluting the power of God. But I think, on further reflection, God’s glory is magnified as it expands and grows. One analogy comes to mind: Scientists tell us that our universe is expanding; I like to think of God’s glory in that way: It is expanding as it includes new believers, as more of us come together in this unity and communion, God’s glory is expanded to fall on more and more believers. May they be one, as we are one. (John 17:21). He calls us all to share in his glory and to be blessed by it.
After they left the place where they ate supper, they went to Gethsemane where he did pray for himself. If it were possible, he prayed God would intervene. After three times, he accepted the verdict. Crucifixion had been the decision since the foundation of the world. Now was not the time to change that, and Jesus accepted the choice. We should not think that it was an easy one.