Monday, May 21, 2012

Jesus' Prayer.... Our Prayer?

It was an interesting thought...

As I was preparing for yesterday's sermon, I looked at N.T. Wright's John For Everyone commentary (which by the way is a really wonderful series) and he wrote the following.
This prayer has been used for many centuries by pastors, teachers and other Christian leaders as they pray for those in their care. It can also, with only slight variation, be used by Christians of all sorts for themselves. Substitute 'Jesus' where the prayer says 'I,' and replace 'they' and 'them' with 'I' and 'me,' It is one of the most serious things Jesus ever said. That's why, deep down, it is also among the most joyful and hopeful. Pray it with awe and delight. (John For Everyone, Part 2, pp. 96-97, WJK, 2004)

So I sat down and thought I might give it a shot. But I didn't just like make the simple substitutions that Wright said. I found a few challenges particularly verse nine where Jesus prays "I am not asking on behalf of the world..." Then simply making 'they' to 'I' loses the communal nature of the prayer. I found 'we' to be a better choice and preserve the intent of Jesus as he prayed for the Christian community. And in the verses 6-19, the sense of those in the original was Jesus praying for his immediate disciples, not all Christians, which follow in verse 20 and following. So I tried to hold to that original sense throughout the prayer. And I think it works well.  The prayer becomes a reminder of the relationship between the Father and Son, then a recitation of the work of the Father, Jesus and the disciples. Finally it becomes a prayer for those of us who remain.

As such, I think it works well... and not to think more highly of myself than I ought, better than Wright's simple substitutions. I think that some of the meanings of some of the words mean something different than what they meant on Jesus' lips, such as "glorify" since the cross was the means of Jesus' glorification in John, but now I think it means something more akin to "make Jesus known in such a way as to work faith."

Here is my version of Jesus' high priestly prayer that we might pray.

Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life that people may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. Jesus glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave him to do. So now, Father, you glorify Jesus in your own presence with the glory that he had in your presence before the world existed. He has made your name known to those disciples whom you gave him from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to him, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given him is from you; for the words that you gave to him he has given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that he came from you; and they have believed that you sent him. Jesus prayed on their behalf; he did not ask on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave him, because they are yours.

All of his are yours, and yours are his; and he has been glorified in them. And now Jesus is no longer in the world, but we are in the world, and he has come to you. Holy Father, protect us in your name that you have given him, so that we may be one, as you and he are one. While he was with his disciples, he protected them in your name that you have given him. He guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now he has come to you, and he spoke these things in the world so that they may have his joy made complete in themselves. He has given them your word, and the world has hated them because they did not belong to the world, just as he did not belong to the world. He did not ask you to take them out of the world, but to protect them from the evil one. We do not belong to the world, just as he did not belong to the world. Sanctify us in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent him into the world, so he sent them into the world. And for their sakes he sanctified himself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Jesus asked not only on behalf of these disciples, but also on behalf of us who will believe in him through their word, that we may all be one. As you, Father, are in him and he is in you, may we also be in you both, so that the world may believe that you have sent him. The glory that you have given him he has given us, so that we may be one, as you two are one, he in us and you in him, that we may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent him and have loved us even as you have loved him. Father, Jesus desires that we too, whom you have given him, may be with him where he is, to see his glory, which you have given him because you loved him before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but he knows you; and we know that you have sent him. Jesus made your name known to us, and he will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved him may be in us, and he in us. Amen

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