Since the sixteenth century, many scholars have called John 17:1-26 “the high priestly prayer.” Jesus prays to the Father for his disciples. The pathos in his plea is comforting as Jesus tells the Father what he knows the Father already knows—that he is going to the Father. Jesus’ concern for his followers is palpable. He wants us to be one as Jesus and the Father are one, and he wants us to be protected from evil. Since we both want and need Jesus to protect us from evil, we listen keenly to those who look out for the common good.
As I immerse myself in John’s narrative of Jesus’ heartfelt prayer for our protection from evil, I weep for all of us, for the whole human race. And I ask myself whether Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand who influenced sensible gun legislation after a massacre, might be a contemporary prophet. I think of Greta Thunberg’s protests, seeking to protect God’s creation from destruction and of her saying that she was inspired by the outspoken students of Parkland High School who advocate for sensible gun control after a mass shooting at their school. I call those surviving students who inspired Greta “our Parkland prophets,” as they carry a godly message in their efforts to prevent the evil of murder. Similarly, I consider Greta a prophet as she tries to protect us from the evil of climate catastrophe, which is upon some parts of our planet already.
Who are the prophets you hear in our world today? Who are those trying to protect us from evil? How is God calling us to respond as those for whom Jesus prayed to be “sanctified in the truth”?
Thank you, gracious God, for protecting us from evil. Help us to work to curtail violence, and help us to listen to the prophets among us. Heal us and give us the courage and the will to do your work in the world. Amen.
Scripture tells us that in our lives, especially in our spiritual lives, we need to distinguish what is true from what is false. The psalmist admonishes us to follow the truth of God and flee wicked ideas. This week we read about Judas, who did not follow that advice—with disastrous results. In Acts, the apostles seek to replace Judas with a witness to Jesus who has not been led astray. In John’s Gospel, Jesus bemoans the loss of Judas and prays that his followers will cling to his words. First John reminds us that God’s words are trustworthy above all. They bear witness to the life that comes through Christ, whose legitimacy was confirmed by his ascension into heaven.
Read Acts 1:1-11. How do you experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? How does the Spirit guide you?
Read Psalm 1. Who are the people around you who exhibit the strength and fruitfulness of those described in this psalm?
Read 1 John 5:9-13. How have you come to know the testimony of God in your heart? How do you live differently as a result?
Read John 17:6-19. What helps you to sense God’s presence and protection in your life?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.