John 17:1-11 is the Revised Common Lectionary reading for the seventh Sunday of Easter, and the lesson is part of a final prayer of Jesus where He is pouring His heart out for the people who have chosen to follow Him. He knows He is leaving earth and what they have learned will have to stick with them, if they will continue to share in the world what God wants them to believe, say and live by.
He begins by retelling the depth and richness of stories and actions they have learned. His words were: 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. 7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8for 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.”
I love these stories that I learned long ago about Jesus, God’s creation and God’s plan. From early Sunday School God’s plan for His people is a learned thing we do not easily forget. That learning became new when I got to San Antonio Junior College in 1962 and I took my Introduction to the Old Testament course and began reading from the Oxford Annotated Bible. Some of my early learnings were deepened. Then in seminary radical change of thought on God’s Word came. Now I am continuing my knowledge and sharing interpretation with friends on Facebook. We never stop learning when we read His Word!
But at many points in our lives we are called to take what we read and put it into practice. This was what Jesus was praying to God about for His followers. And if the followers could hear the wrenching prayer, He was asking for us to have strength in our sharing. He said, 9“I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
As we are out in the world with God’s message, we face challenging times of interpreting that word in changing conditions, and we face cruel reactions of others. The worst of thoughts and actions are becoming quite worldly when we witness “the evil that men do” and say nothing. Our actions call for us to take a stand. I participated in a virtual meeting on May 13, and we were asked to hear the Good Samaritan story through a lens of Covid-19. When we did we began to think of the rabbi and religious leader differently. Likewise, we thought about Samaritan who was exposed to a person with the virus. Think about your neighbor, especially in this day!