"Jesus Prays For the Church to Come" / Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Season Of Easter / May 13th 2018 - / John 17:11-19
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday May 13th 2018: Season of Easter / John 17:11–19 "Jesus Prays For the Church to Come"
[Jesus said], "And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, which You have given Me, that they may be one, even as We are one. While I was with them, I kept them in Your name, which You have given Me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate Myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth."
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Thursday past was Ascension Day when we celebrate what we confess in the creeds of the church, week in and week out, Jesus’ return to the Father to sit at His right hand; it’s always 40 days after Easter. Which means next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday and the celebration of the day in which Jesus’ disciples received “the promise of [His’] Father,” and were, “clothed with power from on high;” Tongues of flame, the Holy Spirit for the preaching of God’s Word, the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations. Today’s Gospel reading from John Chapter 17 takes us back to Maundy Thursday and the Night in Which Jesus was betrayed by Judas “the son of destruction.”
Knowing that His death was coming, that in His case it was imminent, that the public humiliation and crucifixion was nearly upon Him, Jesus prays this prayer of which our reading is but a small part. Saint John records this prayer which the church has called “The High Priestly Prayer.” In it Jesus looks ahead to a time when He will no longer be present with His disciples in exactly the way that He had been with them the previous 3 years, or even that night, the night in which He prayed this prayer. Jesus knows that His a time is coming when He will be present with them only in His Word and Sacraments.
Do you ever contemplate a time when you will be gone from the world, when you will be apart from the ones you love the most? Jesus was not married and He had no naturally born children. He never had sexual union with any woman in His life so He didn’t have a family in the way that many of you have had a family. It will be on your mind today that this is the day that our society has chosen to honour mothers. When Mother’s day rolls around each year, and father’s day too, we in North America take time to think of our parents. Today we think of our moms. For some of you your mothers have long departed from the world, for others they are yet with you. If you are a mother yourself what do you think of when Jesus talks about a future time, when you will no longer be in the world but your children will be? Jesus here, in this prayer, is praying about a legacy, a lasting legacy, a picture of a living breathing life together established in the faith, faith in Him. Mothers, here’s a question for you today, “what is it that you what to deposit with your children, what is it that you want to provide for them that will be lasting, that will outlive your time in this world?”
Dad before you check out of this sermon, thinking it isn’t for you it’s for mothers, and all of you children - and those without children - before you check out of this sermon, thinking it isn’t for you it’s for mothers consider St. Paul and St. Timothy. St. Paul wasn’t Timothy’s biological father and yet St. Paul in his letter to the Philippian Christians says, “you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.” And in a more expanded way St. Paul also says in his first letter to the Corinthian Christians, “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ.” Paul was a spiritual father, today we often calls these sorts of people in our lives mentors. But while each of us has a mom and a dad, our biological parents, even if we’ve never met them, and if they are in our life they may at one and the same time be our spiritual parents in the faith, it may also be that our biological parents are not the ones we turn to in spiritual matters, in such cases you may have a spiritual father, like Paul was to Timothy or a spiritual mother in the faith, a woman who took you under her wing to pray for you, one who encourages you, and builds you up in the Christian faith taught first by Christ Jesus to His disciples. You may then, even if you have no biological children of your own sill at times be a father, or a mother in the faith. You may have your own children and then yet in addition to them also have spiritual children to whom you are mother or father.
What then do we learn from Jesus here in His prayer as He looks to His future departure from the world, to His death, resurrection and ascension? Jesus prays for His disciples, not that they should leave the world with Him as He leaves but that following His final departure that the Father would keep them in His name, Jesus prays, “I kept them in Your name, which You have given Me.” Is this how you pray for your children? Mothers when you stood with your children at the baptismal font and your children were baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit do you now likewise pray that they would be kept in the name into which they are baptized even after you have personally departed from the world?
Jesus doesn’t only speak of prayers, He also speaks of how He gave His disciples God’s word when He prays to the Father, “I have given them Your word,” Jesus was being faithful, a spiritual father to His disciples following the pattern of life that was laid out in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy where the children of Israel were instructed by Moses, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
While St. Paul was certainly a spiritual father to St. Timothy, Timothy was not without a faithful mother, or grandmother for that matter, in the second letter we have from Paul to Timothy Paul writes, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” St. Paul continues on to say that he is, “not ashamed [of the gospel of Christ Jesus],” that as he puts it, “for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He [that is Christ Jesus] is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” Then Paul who also looks to his personal departure from this world says to Timothy, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”
Again in his letter to Timothy, Paul Timothy’s father in Christ Jesus writes, “But as for you [Timothy], continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Have you detected the pattern? In the Gospel of St. John as we see Him staring down His coming crucifixion Jesus on the cusp of death prays to His heavenly Father expressing how He has passed on the faith to His disciples, later He would also pass on this same faith to St. Paul who described himself as, “one untimely born,” because he became an apostle of Jesus Christ after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. And then you have St. Paul who is likewise looking forward to his coming death and is busy encouraging Timothy to remain steadfast in the faith into which He was baptized, faith in Christ Jesus. And in the midst of all of that we have likewise the work of Timothy’s faithful mother Eunice, and grandmother Lois who also taught him and trained him up in this same faith. We all then have this responsibility to be in prayer for those who are growing in the faith, to be teachers of the World of God to them, to be encouragers in the faith, to be active in passing the faith from us to them along the way, to put them in the hands of God the Father when we depart from this world. Mothers you likewise share in this task. A task given to each of us by the Lord Jesus who doesn’t promise a life free of suffering in this world to those who follow Him but rather a life of joy lived in Holy Truth, Holy Truth found in God’s Word.
Mothers you want the word to love your children, Jesus is clear that the World will not love them if they are faithful to Him. This is hard to hear. Yet Jesus also prays that they would be kept, “from the evil one,” which is to say that they would be kept in Him, kept in their baptism, in their Christian faith, and in so doing they will be kept from the evil one. Jesus, without sin, carried His faith in His heavenly father through the fiery trials of His suffering and death upon the cross so that He could pass this faith to His disciples, and Jesus prays to His heavenly Father that this faith, the faith that following His resurrection would be built forever on Him, would be passed then to His disciples and then down the line from Christian to Christian until it has been passed to you and now it is in your hands and in your life you have been passing it on … to your children and if you have no biological children to your spiritual children to whom you are a father or mother in the faith as St. Paul was to St. Timothy.
Does hearing this today, shoot white hot fear through your heart? Do you say to yourself, “this dear God I have not done!” or “This dear God try as I might I have failed at doing to Your glory!” Do you say, “I fear that I have failed in my task!” If this is you today, take heart. Your prayer today is a simple one, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.” Turn over a new leaf, tomorrow is another day, there’s no time like the present: all of these sayings are kind ways of saying repent, return to the Lord your God and start anew in the forgiveness that He so richly showers upon you. Be encouraged, continue to pray, pray for your children, for your god-children, for your spiritual children, and speak: open your mouth and encourage them in their faith that they would continue in what they have learned and believed from childhood when they sat at your knee. Mothers who have children at their knee now, take up every opportunity to teach faith in Christ Jesus to your children. For every time you have in exasperation scolded them for their lack of faith Jesus has forgiveness for you, for every time you kept quiet when you needed to speak God’s word Jesus has forgiveness for you. Hold firm to Christ Jesus, trust in God the Father, trust in Him, and do not leave this world without passing your faith to the next generation. Remembering that your children belong first to God and then to you. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Luke 24:49
 Acts 2:3
 Philippians 2:22
 1 Corinthians 4:14–17
 Deuteronomy 6:4–7
 2 Timothy 1:5–7
 2 Timothy 1:12–14
 2 Timothy 3:14–15
 1 Corinthians 15:8