Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
John 17:1-8 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus Prays for His Disciples
17 After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all people,[a] to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.
6 “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Isn’t it a good feeling to know there is another person or a group of people who care and love you enough to pray for you? I can think of times in my life and in my ministry when there were no sweeter words to hear: “I am praying for you.” You can probably attest to that experience in your own life.
I remember a significant day of discovery in my own life: One day I was nosing around in my mother’s things, and I ran across a prayer diary that she was keeping. I was probably nine or ten years old at the time and had no business going through her things, but I was, and I did find this prayer diary. I read words that went something like this, “Dear God, please watch over my children. Help them always to stay close to you. Teach them to love and to serve. I pray that they would be faithful Christians all of their lives. Amen.” There were several such prayers. It was at that moment that I knew something that I guess I had never thought of: someone (and not just anyone, but my mother) was praying for me! I could “listen in” on her prayer for me. It obviously made a big impact on me because I have remembered that moment so vividly all through the years.
I had a similar reaction to today’s scripture the first time I read it years ago and it dawned on me what was going on. This passage from John’s gospel might be called the Lord’s other Prayer. It is the one that Jesus prayed for his friends, the disciples, before his death on the cross. When I first really listened to the words of Jesus in this prayer, it was a little like discovering my mother’s prayer diary. Jesus prayed for me! Not just anyone, but Jesus himself prayed for me and for you. Today’s scripture reading is part of a prayer Jesus prayed for his disciples that spans the entire 17th chapter. In the twentieth verse Jesus says, “I do not pray for these [disciples] alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word….” In that way, the writer of John included all believers who would come after those first disciples.
For the church at the end of the first century, besieged by persecution and facing difficulties of every kind, the fourth gospel spoke powerfully. This 17th chapter must have had particular impact, as they contemplated that Jesus had prayed on their behalf. What might that mean for us in our day?
There is a lot of theology woven into hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Be Still My Soul”.
1 Be still, my soul! for God is on your side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain:
leave to your God to order and provide,
who through all changes faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul! your best, your heav’nly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
2 Be still, my soul! for God will undertake
to guide the future surely as the past.
Your hope, your confidence, let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be clear at last.
Be still, my soul! the waves and winds still know
the voice that calmed their fury long ago.
3 Be still, my soul! the hour is hastening on
when we shall be forever in God’s peace;
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
love’s joys restored, our strivings all shall cease.
Be still my soul! when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster