“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.” (John 17.20-21a)
Main readings: Acts 16.16-34; Psalm 97; Revelation 22.12-22; John 17.20-26
Supplementary readings: Psalm 133; John 16.16-24; Acts 15.35-16.6, Psalm 93; Revelation 4.1-11
I am amazed, and often embarrassed, at how easily I forget the trials of others in the face of my own struggles. It is one thing to journey with others in their pain when our own needs are not great. It is a much greater sacrifice to make that same journey when our own burdens are heavy.
John 17 is a heart-wrenching prayer by Jesus before his arrest and death. Remarkably, however, the focus of his prayer is not on himself, but on God the Father, whom he seeks to glorify, and on God’s people, whom he seeks to serve. The only references Jesus makes to himself is in relation to what he has done to serve both God and people. Jesus intercedes in his prayer, not only for his disciples, but “on behalf of those who will believe” so “that they may all be one” with God through Christ’s death and resurrection.
This prayer is just one example of the selfless servant heart of Jesus. It does not deny the reality of the brutal death that he endured, but rather reminds us of his gift to bear with each of us through his own burdens. Jesus intercedes for us, even in the face of his death, so that we might be reconciled to God.
But rather than feeling embarrassed or ashamed at how easily I focus on my own needs, I am encouraged and reminded to be more like Christ – praying, caring and serving those in need around me as we journey together.Jump to next article