He is praying for us

Last Sunday, we read from the Gospel of John. The text is a bit convoluted, a bit mystical, and simply amazing. The placement of this passage is weird in the flow of the lectionary texts. We made it through Holy Week, crucified Jesus, raised him, and were journeying with him through the days following his resurrection, when suddenly we are cast back to Thursday night, just before he is betrayed by Judas and arrested in the garden.

Jesus is with the disciples in the upper room. They sat down at the table. You have Peter wondering who is the greatest, and James and John still jockeying for a promotion. Thomas is sitting back taking it all in, and Jesus is trying his best to teach them, to model the essentials for them, the most important things that they need to know because he is leaving soon.

Jesus takes the bowl and towel and goes from person to person, washing their feet. “You don’t understand this now, but one day you will look back and get it. No one is greater than anyone else. You have to understand this to understand God.”

Then, as the food is brought to the table, Jesus takes the bread and the wine and says, “Take this and eat it, drink it, and every time you are together do this again and again in remembrance of me and the God who sent me. This is how we stay connected. This is how you remember who you are and whose you are.”

Jesus doesn’t have much time left, so he starts giving the disciples instructions. Love one another. Follow my ways. Don’t be consumed by worry; I will send a Holy Spirit to be with you. You will never be alone. Fear not.

Then he does the most remarkable thing. He stops. He stops the teaching, the parables, the arguments, the metaphors, the debates, and he prays. He moves from information to intercession. He isn’t praying for himself. He is praying for the disciples and for all who come after him. He is praying for us.

In the moment when he should be most afraid for his own life—for at any minute he will be arrested and taken captive—he prays for the people he loves, including you and me, that we might be one with ourselves, one with each other, and one with God.

It has made me think about the ways that I am living in separation from God’s blessings. If this was what Jesus thought most critical—what he gave his last hours to while he was with us—I wonder if we shouldn’t at least ponder what it would mean to seek the oneness he wished for us.

What would it take for you to take on the prayer that Jesus prayed for us and seek the purpose for which you were born? What would it mean to seek your own wholeness?


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