Reading: John 16:25-33
Reflection – Plain Speaking
Next Sunday, Palm Sunday, we will begin our journey through Holy Week. I said when we started to look at the ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus we would be fast forwarding through parts of the Gospel. Today we finish chapter sixteen which we began last week and then next Sunday, Palm Sunday, we will return to chapter twelve to look at the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and then on Maundy Thursday we will be in chapter thirteen before moving forward again into nineteen for our joint Good Friday service. Some of what we have been looking at in John’s Gospel over the past few weeks has not been in a chronological manner as we have concentrated more on following a theme. Much of what we have already visited, according to John, happened during that last week of Jesus life, after he had entered the city and indeed quite a bit of what John writes, about one third of the Gospel, seven chapters from twelve to nineteen, is actually centred around the final twenty-four hours with Jesus. We know this Gospel is different in style and content to the other three Gospels and in some places the timeline is also different. Between that final sentence from last week, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.’ We discover the disciples asking questions about what Jesus means when he says these things. Jesus sees the confusion within the disciples and goes on to further explain what it is he is saying. The disciples were still thinking like the others that Jesus was about to establish a physical kingdom on earth, that would be like other human kingdoms. Why would he want to go away if he was setting up a kingdom? He speaks to them about pain and joy. He speaks to them about the present time and a time that is to come. Until this point they have not needed to pray in Jesus name as he is with them they could ask him a direct question or pray to God directly but after he is gone Jesus says pray in my name and it will be given to you, a promise to those who heard the words directly and to all who would follow in the faith and that leads us to our reading. Jesus tells them he has speaking figuratively but a time is coming when he will speak clearly to them about the Father. I think it really stresses the message John wishes to convey. Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Word Incarnate. Through his dying on the cross and being raised again Jesus does not need to ask the father to save us, our salvation has been secured through him. Through his sending of the Holy Spirit Jesus does not need to ask the father to bless us, the work of the son on earth is done. For us now all we have to do ask God directly, in Jesus name, and our prayers will be heard for the sake of his son Jesus. The disciples respond to this plain speaking by announcing their belief that he came from God, he has answered their questions before they are even asked. Jesus knew what was in their minds and gave them the answer they were looking for. Sometimes it can be difficult for to hear people certain truths, to hear plain speaking, ‘the truth hurts’ saying. Jesus says, ‘I have overcome the world.’ Sin and evil cannot defeat him, that’s the plain truth.
Reading: John 17:1-5
Reflection – The Glory of Prayer
Here we see Jesus praying for himself before praying for his disciples and then for all believers. People often speak about the power of prayer. People often speak about the comfort that comes from knowing someone is praying for you. In this very short prayer Jesus mentions glory or glorify five times. I wonder how often we have thought about glory in prayer. All of us at some point in our lives have met someone who has been a great inspiration to us. Take a moment to think who that was for you. Your husband or wife, one of your parents or one of your children. Maybe it was work colleague, who knows maybe even a Minister. Take a moment to recall that person, that inspiration, maybe even to recall the moment on your journey when it all happened. Possibly we may even have been that inspiration to another. Think how your life changed from then on. How much richer has life become? How much more joy has filled your life because you got to know that person? Before we can become inspired we need to get to know the person. Jesus is saying here the disciples have come to know him and in knowing him they know the father also. How their lives will change from now and forever. The work of the son is complete on earth. He has brought glory to the Father and now asks for that same glory to be his when he returns to the father’s presence. Notice how John takes us right back to the opening verses of the Gospel ‘In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He was with God in the beginning.’ Compare to the final verse this morning. ‘And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.’ Once again John is stressing this Messianic message. The answer to Jesus prayer here is that those whom God has given him will receive the glory of eternal life. This glory of eternal life does not come about by knowing a god but by knowing the one true God and to know his only son who is Jesus the Christ. The work of the son on earth was to save men and women, when that work on earth is complete the Spirit will come and lead us through life and into life eternal.