Where Are We All Going?

I’m pleased to share the steerage of the Daily Text this week with Dr. Wade Paschal, a long time friend and colleague of mine. Most recently retired from a long tenure of service as the Senior Minister of the First United Methodist Church of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Wade is a pastor-teacher of more than thirty years, a writer and mentor. He is father to three children and grand-father to two. He started as an economics major and went on to do New Testament studies, earning a PhD in Biblical Studies from Cambridge. He served as the founding Dean of the Beeson Center for Biblical Preaching and Leadership at Asbury Theological Seminary, but spent most of his time on the front lines of his downtown church. You will be enriched by his writings this week.

June 16, 2017

John 17:24-26

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

CONSIDER THIS

Jesus finished his prayer with a petition and promise.

Jesus petitions the Father to let the disciples join him where he is and see the glory the Father gave him before the creation of the world.

We are tempted to think of this as a request that the disciples join him in heaven and there see his heavenly glory. That idea isn’t excluded, but I am taken with the fact that Jesus prays that the disciples will be “with me where I am”—“am”, not “will be.” Where is Jesus right now? He stands on the doorstep of the cross. The cross will reveal his glory as the Son who give his life for the world. Before creation the Son shared and expressed the self-giving love of God and Jesus prays that the disciples will see and share this glory now.

Sometimes we see the cross as a tragic necessity. But John 17 sees the cross as an incredible opportunity. The Son does not have to love, but delights in expressing the love of the Father. Above all Jesus prays that disciples understand the glory and the love that come together in the cross.

I reflect on my own attitude. How often do I see love as an obligation and a sacrifice rather than an opportunity? How often do I look at the needs of others as something I have to meet rather than a wonderful opening to love? Sometimes love seems costly and it doesn’t appear to have glory at all.

Nothing could bring us closer to Jesus than to understand the glory of his love. The cross fulfills the love that the Son was given before creation itself. There is no pity or obligation or grudging sacrifice here—it is all glory.

Jesus prays that his followers will be with him to see this and know this. If we do, we will not be afraid of love. We will not fear love’s cost or vulnerability or sacrifice. We will see love as fulfillment—as glory.

Verses 25 and 26 then state a series of facts as a basis for the promise: the world does not know the Father, but the Son does. The Son has revealed the character of the Father to the disciples and they have believed him. None of this is going to end with the cross—Jesus will continue to reveal the Father through the Spirit to those who believe. All this happens so that the Father’s love will be “in” the disciples as the Son himself is in them.

So here is the resulting promise: as we believe in him, the love which he is and has will be in us and he will enable us to love one another. This is where we are all going: we are going to be empowered for love. Christ in us will mean love is in us.

John basically repeats this idea in his first letter: “We love because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19)

He loved us first—and we can see that love did not deplete him or rob him. Just the opposite, the cross revealed the glory the Son had always had.

The more we understand this, the more natural it is to love and care for others. And when we hesitate to love, maybe we are looking at love the wrong way.

THE PRAYER

Righteous Father, help me to see love as glory and not as my obligation or duty. May Christ live in me and may his love be so real to me that I am freed from all need for self-protection, freed from all fear so that I can love as Christ has loved me. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  • Can you think of times when loving seemed more like an obligation than anything else?
  • What seems to be the cost of love?
  • If you think of Christ’s love for you, does that help in loving others? If not, why not?

For the Daily Text, this is Wade Paschal.

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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