- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 23, 2004

The following is a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Larry Edmonds at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Springfield.

Our lesson today comes from the 17th chapter of the Gospel of John. It is a prayer that Jesus prayed after he and the disciples had finished the Passover meal. As we all recall, this is the meal that we have come to commonly call the Last Supper.

It is the Lord’s Prayer for us; let me explain. We usually think that the Lord’s Prayer for us is the one that we pray in the service of worship. That prayer can be found in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Another version of this prayer can be found in the 11th chapter of the Gospel of Luke.

“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

Jesus used this prayer as a model prayer for the disciples to use whenever they prayed to God.

The Lord’s Prayer I am talking about is the prayer found in John’s Gospel. I have read it many times before, but when the lectionary reading for the Gospel for this Sunday had us reading the last part of this prayer it dawned on me that [in] this prayer that Jesus was praying was not just for the disciples, but for us as well.

As we look at this prayer, let me try to put it into perspective as it deals with us.

In the first part of the prayer, Jesus lets God know that he, Jesus, has done everything God sent him on earth to do. He assures God that he has taught the disciples well and asks God to continue to protect them. He shares with God that just as God sent him into the world, he has sent the disciples into the world.

After this, Jesus then says to God, “I pray for these followers, but I am also praying for all those who will believe in me because of their teaching.” And that is the point I want us to share together. Jesus prays for us who believe in him through the teachings of the disciples.

That is tremendous. To think that over 2,000 years ago Christ prayed for us. It begs a question here. How long have we prayed for someone? Next in his prayer to God, Jesus asks specifically for God to help us to be in unity just as he and the Father are in unity together. And then he asks God to let us be with him to see his glory, which God had given him before the foundation of the world. Jesus ends his prayer by calling God righteous and says, “God, the world doesn’t know you, but I know and my followers know you.”

My dear friends, that is quite a prayer for someone to pray for us, especially when it is the Lord Jesus Christ praying for each one of us. And it is marvelous that he prays for us to be in unity, to be in one accord.

Unfortunately, we are living in a time when we have everything but unity. At times, our society and our churches are so polarized that it is difficult at best to know which way to go. So many voices are calling out to us. There are voices from the right, voices from the left, voices from all of the factions of life, but let me ask another question: Are any of those voices praying for you or preying on you?

In II Timothy 4: 3-4, Paul writes to Timothy these words:

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.”

This is why above all of the din of all of these voices, we need to hear clearly the voice of Jesus praying for us, “That they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; for your word is truth.”

Of all of the voices speaking to us today, we have a clear choice to make to hear the voice of Jesus. After all, he is praying for us.

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