We are coming to the end of some restrictions, my parents are looking forward to the day they can come down and see our son again, and some of you are looking forward to these reunions too. But we are also coming to the end of this Easter season, this season of joy, Christ is risen, Hallelujah! He has come to teach and prepare His disciples for His mission to the world, and yet 3 days ago He ascended to His throne in Heaven, ruling over all with authority. Now the eleven wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit before they go into the world, growing the church in our green season of Pentecost. The preparation is coming to an end, soon you will have to work and work hard for the Kingdom of Christ Jesus your Lord.
To answer those who ask why are you a Christian? Where is your God? Even your own questions and doubts. To love those near you, to love Christians around the world and to show the love of Christ to those in need; how are the homeless fairing? How are the other countries around the world? What can you do to bring the love and hope of Christ to those people, and to our own backyard? Your work as a Christian, to speak God’s Word and to serve as did Jesus the son (1 Peter 4:11). That the Father’s name, His reputation, may be glorified, may be kept holy, by those inside and outside the church because of what you do and say; just as we pray in our Lord’s Prayer, ‘hallowed by your name’ (Matthew 6:9). Jesus here speaks with His Father and ours, ‘Glorify your son that the son may glorify you’.
That night when He was betrayed, Jesus taught the disciples about who He was so that they may have peace. Jesus is God together with the Father, this is part of our understanding of the Holy Trinity; that the Holy Spirit will come to walk alongside us, to bring us into Christ, into the love of the Trinity; and that we love each other, keeping and guarding His Word, command and promise. A lot to take in, 3 chapters, about 100 verses, packed when we normally just hear 10 or so a Sunday. And that night, I don’t think they really got it because they scattered at His arrest. Yet Jesus after teaching and preparing them with the Word of God, turned His attention to our Heavenly Father; … God’s Word then prayer, I wonder when in the week we do that … but now is the time for teaching, soon is the time for prayer.
Remember John wrote this gospel so that you might believe that Jesus is the promised messiah, the Son of God, and that believing you may have eternal life in Him (John 20:31). And here in this prayer, Jesus tells you, eternal life is to know the Father as the only true God and, just as John wrote, to know Jesus Christ whom He sent. This Jesus who prays for you, on your behalf, even though He knows you may reject Him as the disciples did that night, that you may forget His words, His promises. Thanking God for the eleven, He is also thanking God for you, that in you Jesus is glorified! You do know Jesus, baptised into Him by the Holy Spirit, you have been taught the faith and continue to hear the Word of God; you come and hold Him, taking Him into yourself in the bread and wine, Christ coming to refresh you as part of His body, Christ in you, you in Him; you keep His Word, His commands and promises, confessing the truth of what you have done, just like Peter recognising his sin yet not despairing but turning back to Jesus, confessing, repenting and receiving Christ’s mercy; even though we fail like the eleven, we trust Jesus Word, guarding it, keeping His commands, and we return to be strengthened to love again, to be prepared for the work He has for us; and in all this have peace and trust Jesus’ true prayer, that the Father answers when Jesus asked that He guards you in His name, so that we may be united to Jesus and each other, united in eternal life and strengthened, prepared to live it out.
So as you go out today, as we prayer; the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts in Christ Jesus, through all trials and tribulations. Amen.
Rev Joseph Graham.