An excerpt from Fr. Justin’s final sermon at New Creation on John 17, the High Priestly Prayer. Delivered May 21, 2023 to the People of New Creation.
Jesus’ prayer in John 17 has been compared to a Last Will & Testament. In some ways, that’s true, but in others, not.
As I prepare to turn 40, I’ve done something that will probably sound entirely morbid: I’ve actually prepared a Last Will & Testament. I even had it notarized according to the laws of the state of Maryland. Tomorrow is not promised, and so I can take the advice of the Prayer Book seriously, plan ahead for the future, and provide for Brooke and kids – but that’s all I can do. My influence and my ability to control outcomes ends there.
But not with Jesus. Can you imagine how this must have sounded to the (now) Eleven as they listened. Eleven! Around a single table. They see an upper room and Jesus sees the Church Universal. They see their motley group and Jesus sees Revelation 7 – a vast army of saints from every tribe, nation, and language gathered around the throne of God. John Chrysostom writes here, “See what a multiplier love is when it can even make one a thousand.”[i]
Ultimately, Jesus is not going to the grave, but back to the Father in strength and glory as our intercessor. He is ascended. He continues to pray for his people! Let me be more specific: he prays for you. This is my central point today. Throw yourself upon Christ’s ministry of prayer to you! You are not left to your own strength. N.T. Wright comments here:
“Imagine some great figure of the past. Shakespeare, perhaps. George Washington, possibly. Socrates. Think of someone you respect and admire. Now imagine that the historians have just found, among old manuscripts, a letter from the great man himself. And imagine that it was talking about…you.”[ii]
Verse 20 makes explicit that you were on Jesus’s mind and heart in this prayer – and he never stopped representing you to the Father and the Father has never ceased to pour out his love and care for you through the power of the Spirit.
May New Creation always know and receive the ongoing and abiding ministry of Jesus to his people. May you labor and persevere in him, not in your own strength. Christ Jesus prayed for us…and he prays for us still. Amen.
[i] Homilies on the Gospel of John 78.3-4.
[ii] N.T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part Two. Louisville, KY: SPCK, 98.