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Jesus' High Priestly Prayer

John 17:1-26
June 19, 2014
Concordia Catechetical Academy Symposium on the Lord's Prayer

✠ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ✠

    Jesus prays for His Church.  He prays for those given to preach the Father’s Word of truth.  He prays for those who will believe in Him through that Word.  And so He prays for you.  It is only because of this that there is still faith on the earth.  It is only because of Jesus’ ongoing prayer that the Church has survived persecution and false teaching, tyranny and tribulation, incompetence and apathy, and the likes of us who fall all too quickly into worldliness and unbelief

null    Jesus prays for us–not only in the past, but also the present; not only above, but also on earth. As He was with His disciples here on the night when He was betrayed, so the right hand of the Father is extended concretely to wherever two or three are gathered in His name.  Jesus is always the Chief liturgist and presiding minister.  He is the Great High Priest who leads our prayer before the heavenly throne, and who bestows blessing and forgiveness from the Father.  It is His service, for He yet remains the One Mediator between God and men, for He alone is both God and man.  Jesus is God for man as we receive His divine gifts, and He is man for God to bring us and our prayers to the Father.  Christian worship, then, is the worship of Christ–in both senses of the phrase.  

    Jesus prays, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You.”  Jesus is glorified in the hour when He is lifted up on the cross, for there the glory of God’s love toward sinners is made known.  And now Jesus’ prayer finds its fulfillment among us in the preaching of the cross.  This is how the Father is glorified and worshiped rightly, that we believe in His Son whom He sent.  This is eternal life, that we know the true God of mercy manifested in Jesus the crucified One, and cling to Him and hold on to His words from the Father–as Jesus said, “They have kept Your Word.”  And even more importantly He said, “I kept them in Your name.”

    The true and highest worship of God is faith, to receive the gifts of Christ with thanksgiving and prayer, the voice of faith.  The disciples had just received the gifts of Christ’s body and blood, the holy Eucharist.  When we receive this blessed Sacrament, Jesus’ words are fulfilled for us when He said, “(Father), the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me.”  Christ gives Himself into you most literally under the bread and wine for your forgiveness and life.  And the Father is in Christ.  And so you are drawn by the Holy Spirit into the perfect unity of divine love.  The Father loves and accepts you as He loves and accepts His own Son.  

    Jesus has not prayed that we yet be taken out of this world with its sorrows and troubles–the glory hidden under the cross must come before the revealed glory of the resurrection.  But Jesus does pray for your deliverance from the evil one, whom He fought and conquered in Your flesh.  You do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with your weaknesses, but One who was tempted and tested in every way just as you are, yet without sin.  Therefore you are without sin.  For you are in Christ and He in you.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  You have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous.  His fervent desire is for you to be with Him in His glory.  He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for your sins, and not for yours only but also for the whole world.

✠ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ✠

 

The Gardener

John 20:10-18

✠ In the name of Jesus ✠

    Mary Magdalene is standing near the tomb in the garden weeping.  That sounds a lot like Eve, doesn't it? Wasn’t it in the garden that Eve, with Adam, fell away from God? In so doing didn’t she bring a curse of pain and sorrow upon herself? Wasn’t death the result of her and her husband's sin? In her helplessness and hopelessness and loneliness, Mary Magdalene, the daughter of Eve, weeps.

    So it is for all the children of Eve, for all you who are dust to dust. Everything is only temporary in this vale of tears. Nothing lasts. It is written, "All people are like grass and all their glory is like the flower of the field. The grass withers and the flower falls." Even the vitality of youth is permeated by the degenerative power of death. It's the hollowness that you still have after you've taken in your fill of all this passing world has to offer. It's the so-called "fun" you rationalize that ends up taking from you more than it gives. It's the camaraderie you seek by going along with the crowd that turns out to be a sort of crowded isolation. There's ultimately no avoiding the brokenness of mortality. In the end you are left right where Mary is, bent over, staring through wet eyes into the mouth of the grave.

    But note what Mary sees. Not only does she see that Jesus' tomb is empty, but she also beholds two angels sitting where the Lord had been. And these messengers of the Lord ask her, "Why are you weeping?" It's almost as if they said, "There's no need for tears any more. For the crucified One whom you seek has risen. He who bore the curse of the world's sin has redeemed you from the curse forever. He who was held by the jaws of the grave has shattered those jaws and has destroyed death's power over you. He who did battle with the kingdom of darkness has crushed the devil's head by His holy cross, setting you free from hellish bondage. Do not cry. For Jesus is alive for you as the triumphant conqueror and the Lord of all."

    Mary turns around now and sees Jesus. But she doesn't yet know that it's Him. She mistakes Jesus for the gardener. And yet she really isn't mistaken, is she. Jesus is the Gardener. For He is the Second Adam. And was not the first Adam the caretaker of Eden's garden? So also Jesus is risen to restore you, His people, to Paradise. This New Adam walks in the garden in the cool of the new day and reveals Himself to the daughter of Eve. What He brings to her and to you is not judgment but justification, not sin but righteousness, not death but life. Jesus completely reverses and totally undoes the fall. It is written, "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

    Jesus is not only the Gardener, He is also the Seed which is planted in the garden. He is the promised Seed of Eve which overcomes the serpent. Jesus had said that unless a seed falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, then it is fruitful. So it was that Jesus was crucified and planted in the garden tomb.  He is the New Vine of the garden, which has arisen out of the earth, bearing abundant fruit, making you alive in Him, giving you to share in His resurrection.  As Jesus said, "Because I live, you will live also."

    Jesus makes Himself known to Mary simply with one word. The sheep know the Shepherd's voice, and He calls them each by name. “Mary.”  In the joy of this sudden recognition, Mary cries out "Teacher!"

    Has not the Teacher also revealed Himself to you by calling your name at the baptismal font? Indeed, by water and the Word He drew your name into the name of the Holy Trinity.  He united you with Himself and thereby made you a child of God. So it is that Jesus says, "My Father and your Father, my God and your God."  Do you see what that means? You are given the same status now as Jesus.  All that Christ is and has He has made yours: release from sorrow, abounding forgiveness, indestructible life and joy. By virtue of your baptism into Jesus' death and resurrection, you are now His kin, His own flesh and blood, restored to communion with God and with one another.  Believing in Him you shall share in the everlasting inheritance of His new creation.

    Therefore, it is written, "'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. . . God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.' Then He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.'"

✠ In the name of Jesus ✠

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