Gospel: John 17.1-11. This is the High Priestly prayer of Jesus in which He asks protection for His followers just before He goes to His glory on the cross. The cross is also where He is made King. The Roman soldiers had mockingly dressed Him in kingly attire and put a crown of thorns on His head and then Pilate put a placard above his head on the cross saying “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews (abbreviated INRI in Greek). This was His coronation. As Caiaphas had said, “it is expedient that one man should die for the people” (Jn 18.14), what he said was ironically true. Jesus was being made King on the cross. He was being glorified and was bringing glory to the Father. He was meeting the evil forces of the empires of the world and allowing them to do their worst against Him as He met them with love that resulted in victory and His coronation. Strange victory, because it didn’t look like victory–after all, the rulers of empire still kept their place while Jesus was killed on the cross. But on Easter Sunday His resurrection showed that death could not hold Him and the empty tomb showed that He had overcome death. Death and sin are linked together, so that overcoming death meant overcoming sin also. Jesus said, “When I’ve been lifted up, I’ll draw all people to Myself” (Jn.12.31,32). His death would constitute His victory over the “ruler of this world” who was not only Caesar but the dark power standing behind Caesar and using him for its dark, destructive purposes. The kingdoms clash as Christ confronts Pilate, and Jesus bears witness to the Truth that He is the King of the Jews, dying for His people, for the world, expressing and embodying the saving, healing, sovereign love of God, the Creator. He died because “He made Himself the Son of God” (Jn 19.7). He was tried for blasphemy, but He was telling the truth. Then as now, few believed Him. This is another great irony! When He said on Good Friday, “It is finished,” He meant not only that His work was complete but that now the new creation was complete as on the sixth day of creation in Gen 1. Now “the glory of God could cover the earth as the water covers the sea” (Hab 2.14) as the Spirit fills His followers. With Christ and His followers, comes a new creation! (2Cor 5.17; Eph 6.15). And so we come to the end of the fifty days after Easter and the next Sunday (June 4) we celebrate the out-pouring of the Spirit “on all flesh” (Joel 2.28) and the beginning of the Season of Pentecost. Like the resurrection this is the sign of the victory of Christ over the evil powers of this world. Their power is given them by people worshipping them in idolatry rather then the true God, and now that they can receive the Spirit they can refuse to worship the false deities of the world. This is how the victory is implemented by godly people instantiating the kingdom of God. In the past six months we have reflected on Advent, Christmastide, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter covering the Coming, Birth, Life, and Death of the Lord Jesus. We have reflected on the Seasons of the Light of Christ (Christmas/Epiphany), and then of the Life of Christ (Lent/Easter/Resurrection), and during the next six months of the Season of Pentecost we will reflect on the Love of Christ. We will be using N.T. Wright’s book on Christian ethics, After You Believe. It provides a basis for how we are to live as subjects of the Kingdom of God under our Lord and Savior, Christ the King. Believers may wonder now that they have been born again of Christ and are assured of salvation through faith and grace, what are they expected to do now? What more is there? This wonderful book answers that question. What we are to do, and how we are to do it. The answers may surprise you.
Memory Verse: Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn 17.3).