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“Jesus Prays for Us!” Seventh Sunday, May 11, 1986 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Coney Island, New York

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Seventh Sunday at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Coney Island, New York

May 11, 1986

Text: John 17:20-26

What we hear in the Gospel message is part of the last prayer that Jesus prayed for his disciples. It could well have been the way the author of John imagined Jesus to have prayed at the last. But yet and still, this is the Christ praying – if you check it out, you will see that it rings true. It is right there and it routes for us, it stands by us, it holds us firmly, and test it as we might – we have the Word of God here and we can bank on it, to use a commercial expression.

Consider this about the prayer, because the lesson is a prayer: Jesus is praying for us. “I do not pray for my disciples alone, but also for all those who will believe in me through their message.” You know, that covers us too. We have heard their message and we have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord. Therefore Jesus himself has prayed for you and has prayed for me.

Don’t we often feel that some people have got God’s ear more than others? Some people, we reason, pray to God and have a better chance of God’s listening to them. Dr. Forschner, a family physician in our area, is now very sick and his secretary made a point to ask me to pray with her for him. She really wanted me to pray and I am a sinful person. But she figured that my prayer would mean a lot. Imagine how much more it means for you that Jesus prays and has prayed for you?

What could possibly defeat you if that prayer of Jesus for you ascends to the throne of God? What can stand in the way and not be moved by the powerful prayer of Jesus? Can our church’s financial problem stand? Jesus’ prayer will make you people give so that this church can pay its bills. God will provide for you and you will provide for the church.

Can an alcoholism problem stand if Jesus is praying for you? You can have hope because the powerful prayer of Jesus can show you how to relate to an alcoholic if you are an Al-Anon, and can rescue you from bottled destruction, if you are confronted with the disease yourself.

Just think! Jesus is praying for you. You don’t think that God is going to mobilize into action on your behalf when Jesus puts in a prayer for you? You know God will. God will respond and save you because of Jesus’ prayer.

Then look at what Jesus is praying for: “My prayer is not for my disciples alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father – as you are in me and I am in you.”

Let’s look at what Jesus is praying for – for us: “That all of them may be one.” Jesus is praying that we become one, that we have unity, that we might come to complete unity. This oneness is a gift given us by God. That we might be given this gift of God is Jesus’ prayer even for us.

We all tend to live in our own boxes separated from others. A White person among Whites never tries to get an inner feeling about what it means to be Black. But Jesus prays that Black and White become one, that Whites get an inner feeling of what it means to be Black, and Blacks what it means to be White. When I am in a separate White box, then I can hopefully feel when White people feel and hurt, but I don’t feel it when Black people hurt. Jesus prays that White people feel the hurt of Black people and vice versa. That means being one, being whole.

Sure, there are the sexes. It is all fine and good to show physical affection, but if a man and a woman are not one inside, then the physical affection will wear out. If God gives the man and the woman the gift of oneness inside, the physical affection celebrates and expresses this wonderful gift of God’s to us. And Jesus prays for this oneness.

Now sure, a man and a woman can love each other physically. But that does not mean that they have the true oneness within given us by the prayer of Christ. If the husband loves the wife he makes space for her. If she wants to study, work outside, follow her career, he does not stand in the way and say, “You belong in the home serving me and having my babies!” And she does not prevent him from getting intimate with the baby, feeding it, loving it, and becoming a true father. She gives him the space to also become the magical father he is called to be and the father the children and the home needs. That love comes out of the inner oneness which Christ prays into our marriages.

Real oneness is inside and allows men to be men and women to be women. When we are really one, we can celebrate our differences. We can be unique and individual. The oneness provided for us by Jesus’ prayer makes us be ourselves in others and lets others be themselves when they are with us.

The oneness is inside and not outside. Oneness is not to be like somebody else. Often we mix up oneness or unity with uniformity. Soldiers all wear uniforms. They are one only in how they are dressed. You don’t know where their hearts are. But they are trained to kill. We can be outwardly as different as we please, but inside we are one and we are trained to give life and make life well up and overflow into new hope for all we touch and love.

One fellow I know wanted to be one with women in their struggles, so he started braiding his hair and st6arted trying to be a girl. That, you see, is outward oneness and is not helpful [unless in a rare case, a person is trapped in a body of the opposite sex]. It is not good for men to try to be women and for women to try to be men. The unity received from God lets men and women share a oneness, where they can be their own sex and say, “Viva la differénce!” Thank God for the difference!

Some people are always in the poor box. Some are always in the rich bag. Jesus prays that rich and poor become one: that the rich person get into the desperate needs of the poor in that poor world and that the poor person get into the life of the rich and that rich world. The result is the revolution inside people. Revolutions outside have occurred again and again, but haven’t changed the world that much. The internal revolution will make the real difference, because it is salvation. In this oneness, suddenly the poor will teach and help the rich appreciate and use their wealth as it is meant to be used – for human need – not just selfish, private needs.

Jesus prayed that we become one and don’t we have a lot of growing to do? What a glorious thing Jesus is praying for. We touched on Black and White, male and female, rich and poor oneness. We could have talked about an inner tie between communists and capitalists. Imagine what such a oneness brings to this world? We would need no nuclear arms. We could save so much military spending. Or imagine allowing ourselves to become one with gay people – gay and straight together! What a personal and social challenge we face! How can we help but be overwhelmed? Just think that Jesus is praying for us.

Often it is our mothers who pray for us like Jesus does. Imagine if sons, in this inner sense, would become one with their mothers and daughters one with their mothers that way too? And if daughters and sons would become one, mutatis mutandis, with their fathers inwardly as well? The generational conflict would melt away. Fathers, however, would have to undergo quite a challenge to match the unconditional love of mothers. Besides a mother, who can accept all that pain and still not reject her own child? Jesus. Yes,  and Jesus can make us one and that even with our mothers. And in the oneness that is the gift of God, we can rejoice in the inner tie that will forever bind us in utter freedom – the freedom of Christ. Amen.

A postscript of images of disunity: I did not get to the thoughts about two kids pushing a car, at-one together or one trying to push it and the other trying to pull it in the other direction. That describes many a family at cross-purposes. There is the Chinese drawing about all the people being able to pull a big red beat out of the ground, where it is impossible for a person alone to do it. Spouses in a marriage can be pulling together; individuals in a society can be pulling together, as well as members of a church: otherwise they are a house divided against itself that will not stand.

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Written by peterkrey

April 5, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Posted in Selected Sermons

One Response

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  1. wow… such a wonderful post…
    outstanding balance of lines and words….
    Learnt a lot from you….

    visit mine… & plz plz plz post your comments….

    Thank you…

    I’ll be in touch…

    sami Alam

    April 5, 2010 at 10:58 pm


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