What I’m Thinking: Loving What We Become

In his prayer at the Last Supper, Jesus described his disciples as knowledgeable, faithful, and loving. He described them not as they were, but as they would become.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the seventeenth chapter of John’s Gospel (John 17:6-19). At this point in the book, Jesus’ farewell discourse to his disciples has ended. The prayer has begun.

The first few verses – which are not included in our lectionary text – are straightforward, if challenging. Jesus asked God to glorify him, knowing perfectly well that “glorify himself” in this case meant to accompany him on that painful and deadly path that led to arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial.

The lectionary editors have picked up the prayer just after that brief opening section, because Jesus turned his thoughts almost immediately from his own situation to that of his friends. And this is an extended section in which Jesus asked God to care for them.

He described them as being faithful, as being true followers, as being people who understood what was going on – even if we will see those disciples demonstrate their ignorance in the next few chapters, demonstrate also their unwillingness to stand with Jesus at his most desperate hour. In the prayer, Jesus describes them perhaps not as they were in that moment, but as they would become in the days following the resurrection.

The last few weeks I’ve been thinking about love: how we are called to love one another, how God loves us, how Jesus loves us. And I think there is something here to tell us the way that Jesus brings love to us. Jesus clearly loved his disciples deeply and fully, loved them enough to describe them in their fullness, rather than in their present reality. Jesus loved them enough to describe them as they would become and not as they were in the moment. Jesus described them as they would be when they left behind their frailties, their ignorance, and their pride. Jesus described them as they would become when their humility was something that he would be proud of.

That, I think, is how Jesus loves us: loves us in the present with all our imperfections, yes, our sins, our errors, our limits – the limits that we place on ourselves especially. Jesus loves us enough to see beyond what we see to the greatness that is within: greatness of heart, greatness of courage, greatness of spirit, and most of all, greatness of love.

Jesus loves us so much as to see the love that we can share with one another.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: | Posted on May 10, 2021

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