Socially Life Giving and Healing, Part 1

Socially Life Giving and Healing, Part 1 May 7, 2024


Our lectionary reading this seventh weekend of Easter is again from the gospel of John:

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I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (John 17:6-19)

John 17 is referred to as Jesus’ “farewell” prayer in the Johannine community’s gospel. In the Christian faith tradition, this chapter in John has some history. This chapter, more than any other, influenced the church’s orthodox position on Jesus’ divinity in the 4th and 5th centuries. 

This chapter also gives us a window into how the Johannine community defined Jesus and his life work. At this time, the Johannine community was a generation removed from the historical Jesus. Those who wrote this version of the Jesus story were second-generation Jesus/John followers. They believed the first generation’s reports about Jesus and they took up the torch to promote this version of Jesus and his life work (see John 17:20-23) This gospel will take its place alongside the synoptic gospels as early as the end of the second century (Irenaeus groups together the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, that we are most familiar today in his Against Heresies). 

Yet Jesus and his life work are subtly different in the Johannine community’s version of the Jesus story. This difference in John is telling. We’ll explore one of those differences in this week’s reading, next.

(Read Part 2)


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About Herb Montgomery
Herb Montgomery, director of Renewed Heart Ministries, is an author and adult religious re-educator helping Christians explore the intersection of their faith with love, compassion, action, and societal justice. You can read more about the author here.

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