Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Gospel of John, Chapter 20: Resurrection

Read Chapter 20 here.

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb…” The chapter begins with these familiar words.

At key moments in the narrative, the Gospel of John makes a point of telling us when the action is occurring – early in the day, noon, or the night; in light or in darkness.  Light and darkness are also key metaphors in the gospel for spiritual vision or lack thereof.  At this moment in this gospel telling, the light of a new day is about to shine.

The other important thing to point out here, that is mentioned in nearly every Easter sermon, is that women are main characters here.  In this gospel, one woman is named.

To proceed with the story… Mary Magdalene sees that, surprisingly, the tomb is open - the stone has been rolled away from the entrance.  It doesn’t say she is alarmed but we can guess that she is, from what she does – she immediately runs back to Simon Peter and the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (TDWJL) and tells them that someone has taken Jesus’ body away.  She exclaims, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”  The use of “we” implies that Mary M. had gone to the tomb with other people.

Peter and TDWJL run to the tomb. TDWJL gets there first and peeks in, noticing that the burial cloths are there.  Simon Peter catches up, and fully enters the tomb.  He sees that the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head was folded up, separate from the other cloths.  TDWJL then goes into the tomb.  “He saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.”  I think in this sentence, “they” refers to the rest of Jesus’ followers, not including The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved.  

We can infer that what TDWJL believes in that moment is that Jesus is raised from death to life. Could it be that TDWJL is doing a little humble-brag?  Only the most advanced disciples believe in the resurrection right away.  In fact, it’s a relief to learn that it took time for most of the disciples to come to believe in the resurrection. 

The two disciples head back home, leaving Mary still at the tomb, crying.  She looks into the tomb and sees two angels, who ask her why she is crying.  She repeats what she told the disciples - they have taken him (Jesus’s body) away, and I don’t know where they have put him.  She turns around, and sees a person standing there.  It’s Jesus, but Mary does not recognize him yet.  Jesus asks, Why are you crying?  Whom are you looking for?  Mary thinks he is the gardener, and asks him where he has put the body.  

Then Jesus calls her by name.  “Mary!”  She recognizes him and exclaims, “Teacher!”  The text implies that Mary approaches Jesus, because next Jesus warns her “not to hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.”  Jesus instructs Mary to go and tell “my brothers” (the disciples):  

“I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”  (verse 17)

Mary goes to the disciples and tells them that she has seen The Lord, and tells them what he said to her.

I just realized that throughout this gospel, when the word “disciples” is used, my assumption has been that it refers to men.  Isn’t Mary Magdalene a disciple, a follower of Jesus?  It seems she is, or should be considered so, because Jesus entrusts to Mary the crucial message that he is alive, raised from the dead.  But I think this gospel is written with the assumption that the disciples are men.

When Jesus uses the phrase “my Father and your Father” he is reinforcing the unity he spoke of in his prayer in Chapter 17.  “All mine are yours, and yours are mine” (verse 17:10).  In verse  15:15 Jesus had moved from calling the disciples his servants to calling them his friends.  In this phrase in 20:17 Jesus is portraying himself as their brother.  In a sense, this brings us full circle back to chapter 1:  

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.  (1:12-13)

The story leaps to the evening of the same day.  The disciples are meeting together, locking the doors of the house where they are, because they fear the Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus.  Into that gathering Jesus appears and says, “Peace be with you.” (Verse 19)  

Jesus shows them his hands and his side – presumably the marks of his wounds from being nailed to the cross, and from where the soldiers pierced his side after he died.  Nowhere in the text of this gospel did it describe the process of nailing a person to a cross.  It is assumed that we know that is part of crucifixion.  

The wounds are proof that it is Jesus himself.  The disciples are overjoyed to see Jesus.  Jesus says again “Peace be with you,” and continues “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  The first part of this sentence must be further proof of Jesus’ identity, because he has said this very thing about a thousand times in this gospel.  But I think this is the first time in this gospel that Jesus sends the disciples.   The text, as usual, is enigmatic; it does not say exactly where he is sending them or for what purpose.  But we know from Chapter 7 that we should not make the same mistake the Pharisees made (verses 7:32-36).  Jesus is not talking about sending them to the grocery store.  This gospel’s theme is that Jesus was sent from the Father to bring light and life.  Now Jesus is sending the disciples out to bring the same to all. Jesus is sending them to carry out the new commandment to love one another.  That’s my interpretation, anyway.

Then Jesus breathes on the disciples and says:

 “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”  (verse 22-23)

This is quite a gift Jesus is giving.  Jesus had already spoken to the disciples about the gift of the Holy Spirit (14:15-17,  14:25, 15:26, 16:7-13).  But this verse is the only time the word “forgive” appears in the entire Gospel of John (in the NRSV). Will the disciples be careful not to misuse their new power to forgive or retain sins?

One of the disciples was not in that locked room when Jesus appeared – Thomas.  The other disciples tell Thomas they have seen the resurrected Jesus, but he doesn’t believe them.   Thomas declares that he must physically see and touch where the crucifixion nails went into Jesus’ hands and feet, and where the soldiers stuck a spear in his side.  Hence the nickname that he has been stuck with throughout the centuries:  Doubting Thomas. Seems unfair, as in Chapter 11 Thomas was the first one to volunteer to walk into danger with Jesus.

A week passes, and again the disciples are gathered together, with Thomas among them this time.  Jesus appears and says “Peace be with you.”  He invites Thomas to see and touch his hands and his side.  “Do not doubt but believe.”   And Thomas does believe.  Jesus speaks of future believers:

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (verse 29)

The gospel author notes that Jesus did other “signs” but they are not recorded here. The purpose of what is written in this gospel is: 

so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. (verses 30-21)

Those two verses sound like the end of the gospel, but there is one more chapter.

Friday, April 15, 2022

The Gospel of John, Chapter 19: Crucifixion


The Gospel of John, Chapter 19: Crucifixion

Read Chapter 19 here.

The torture and humiliation now begin in earnest.  And so does the political maneuvering between the Jewish leaders and Pilate, the Roman governor.  There is a tragic sense of fatalism - everything is happening as it has to happen, everyone is playing their allotted role.  Numerous times in this chapter the author tells us that scripture is fulfilled.

First, Pilate has Jesus whipped.  That in itself should be enough torture, but it doesn’t stop there.

Since Pilate has repeatedly called Jesus “King of the Jews”, the soldiers mock Jesus by making a crown of thorns and torture Jesus by putting this painful thing on his head.  They dress him in a purple robe, sarcastically say “Hail, King of the Jews”, and slap Jesus in the face.  

Pilate appears again before “them” (I surmise that this means the Jewish leaders who arrested Jesus and brought him to Pilate).  Jesus appears before them all, wearing the crown of thorns and the mocking robe of “royalty.”  Pilate twice says that he finds nothing to accuse Jesus of.  The chief priests and police call out “Crucify him!” and say that Jesus’ crime is that “he has claimed to be the Son of God.” (verse 7)

Pilate becomes afraid.  I guess he doesn’t want to get mixed up in a religious-political dispute.  Or he doesn’t want to choose between dissing the emperor or dissing the God of the Jewish people.  Pilate quizzes Jesus again, trying for a third time (a mirror image of Peter’s three denials?) to find a reason to free Jesus, but Jesus says nothing.  Pilate says, don’t you know I have supreme power over your life?  Jesus then responds that the only reason Pilate has power is that it was given to him “from above.”  

Again Pilate tries to release Jesus.  The Jewish leaders who oppose Jesus throw it back in his face - they say, if you let free this man who claims to be a king, then you are being disloyal to the Roman emperor.

Next Pilate tries to appeal to the people outside the Praetorium.  Are these just the Jewish leaders, or is it a crowd of people?  I think in this gospel it’s just the leaders.  The text notes that it was the “day of Preparation for the Passover, and it was about noon.”  I am not sure what this detail means. Is there likely to be a big crowd there at that time on that particular day? 

Pilate said to “the Jews”, (the leaders who oppose Jesus), “Here’s your king!” but they shout for Jesus to be crucified.  Pilate:  You want me to crucify your king?  The chief priests declare that the Roman emperor is their only king. So Pilate sends Jesus to be crucified.

As this gospel tells it, Jesus has to carry his own cross, walking to The Place of the Skull, Golgotha, the place of the crucifixion. 

There are few details in this gospel about the mechanics of crucifixion, but suffice to say that it is an extremely cruel, humiliating, and torturous way to die. They place Jesus on a cross between two other criminals.  Pilate arranges for a sign to be on Jesus’ cross that says, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” The text specifies that the sign is written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. Anybody and everybody should be able to read it.  The Jewish chief priests object to this label, but Pilate says, too bad.  “What I have written I have written.”  (verse 22).  

As Jesus hangs naked on the cross, slowly dying, the soldiers take Jesus’ clothes and divvy them up between them.  This is to fulfill a scripture.

Some of Jesus’ closest family and friends are standing nearby watching.  The first mentioned are women – Jesus’ mother, his mother’s sister, another Mary, and Mary Magdalene.  Jesus sees his own mother and “the disciple whom he loved” and bequeaths to his mother a new son, the disciple he loves.  This is heartbreakingly touching, and I think it is further fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer in Chapter 17:12 that “not one of them [Jesus’ followers] was lost”. 

Jesus senses that his death is near.  He says, in order to fulfill scripture, “I am thirsty.”  Those in charge put a sour-wine-soaked sponge on a branch of hyssop and hold it to Jesus’ mouth.

When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.”  Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (verse 30)

Every Good Friday, when I hear this story again, it never fails to give me chills.

The gospel author notes that “the Jews” do not want the bodies of the crucified people to remain on the crosses during the sabbath.  This next detail is gruesome, and does not appear in the other gospels.  In an additional cruelty, the soldiers break the legs of the two crucified criminals.  I looked this up, and the internet says that breaking the legs makes the crucified victims suffocate, and so would hasten death.  It would be less painful, I’m sure, if the soldiers just ran them through with a sword. But this is the Roman system of punishment, and the point is to make the punishment as cruel as possible. 

But Jesus is already dead, so the soldiers do not break his legs, which the text says is a fulfillment of a scripture.  The soldiers do stick a spear into the gut of Jesus, and blood and water pour out.  This is also to fulfill a scripture.

Joseph of Arimathea is a secret disciple of Jesus.  He asks Pilate to let him have the body of Jesus; Pilate agrees.  Nicodemus (of Chapter 3, the Jewish leader who “had at first come to Jesus by night”) also arrives with burial spices.  The two men prepare Jesus’ body with the burial spices and linen.  And then they place the body into a nearby tomb which had never before been used.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

A Convergence of Holy Days

The brisket is roasted and stored in the fridge.  Two Passover desserts are safely tucked in the freezer.  The Apple Matzo Kugel, required according to the family halachah, is ready.  We have enough matzo to last to mid-May.  There is ample cream cheese, hummus, and peanut butter to spread on it.

In other words, the larder is pleasantly stocked but there has been nothing to eat for dinner this week.  Just like the week before Thanksgiving.

It occurred to me that we could have a reverse seder plate this year.  Put a whole bunch of different foods on the seder plate.  During the seder meal, we would remove each food from the seder plate and eject it from the house while explaining why it does not belong.  That seems to be the direction America is headed, pointing out those who do not belong here.

It's not unheard of to desire to throw things
off the seder plate:
"A woman belongs on the bima like an orange
belongs on the seder plate,"
said some dude who was threatened by women.

Tomorrow night is Good Friday, with solemn worship commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus.  It is also the first night of Passover, with a festive meal commemorating the exodus from Egypt.  This is not the first time that these two, both of which the Common Household observes, have coincided.

In the past, the Common Household seder
has included telling the Passover story
using Peeps.

I think the clump of purple Peeps are Israelites
leaving Egypt.

You can tell this Peep is Moses.  He has a staff.

I was today years old when I discovered that the first night of Passover, the “First Seder,” never falls on a Sunday, Tuesday, or Thursday.  Minimal research on the internet leads me to conclude that this is thanks to Maimonides, the medieval Jewish scholar.  

I first learned about Maimonides through my children, as is the case with many things I have learned.  When my son was a mere youth, his second-grade religious school class was studying Maimonides.  I asked him “What are the eight levels of tzedakah, according to Maimonides?”  He replied, “Level 1, level 2, level 3, level 4, level 5, level 6, level 7, level 8.”   

He always replied to any question with the most concise answer.

Maimonides’ numbered list of eight levels of charitable giving has to do with the amount of cheerfulness exhibited while giving, the swiftness of giving, and how much recognition can be conferred upon the giver.

Maimonides set up the Jewish calendar so that Passover never begins on the night of Sunday, Tuesday, or Thursday.  It seems Maimonides was most concerned about Yom Kippur not starting on a Thursday night, and the result of that rule guides the weekdays on which Passover can start.  If Yom Kippur would start on a Thursday night, then it would immediately precede Shabbat (which starts on Friday night).  That would be two solid days of numerous prohibitions against doing various things.

I haven’t looked up the dates of the First Seder back to Maimonides time in the 12th century, but did look back at the years of my marriage to see how many times the First Seder fell on a Friday night.  For the past 33 years, the First Seder has fallen on a Friday night 10 times (30%), but one of those Fridays was not Good Friday.   There was a stretch, from 1999 to 2011, when the First Seder never fell on a Friday, thus lulling me into complacency.  From 2012 to 2022, though, 5 of the 11 First Seders fell on Good Friday.  In 2016 the First Seder fell on a Friday, but that was one of those rare years when Holy Week was widely separated from Passover, due to the intricacies of the lunar and solar calendars.  The next time when the First Seder will coincide with Good Friday is in 2029, seven years from now, if we make it that far.

Having just read the account of the crucifixion in the Gospel of John, I am aware of how unjust and painful an event it was.  And yet there is redemption at its core.  We will be commemorating Good Friday at church tomorrow evening with traditional readings and music.  The exodus from Egypt was also an event of injustice,  pain and redemption.  The firstborn of the Egyptians died.  The Israelites had to leave their homes in a hurry and trek to a place unknown to them.  We will be celebrating that uncertain freedom at home the next night with traditional readings, food, and music.

There is much pain and injustice in the world.  I hope to spend these paradoxically joint holy days praying for redemption and peace.  God knows, the world needs both.

This is a giant painting of the burial of Jesus,
at the Church of the Sepulchre in
Jerusalem.  The holy sites are right on top
of one another, just as these two holy days are this year.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

The Gospel of John, Chapter 18: Before the Cock Crows

The Gospel of John, Chapter 18: Before the Cock Crows

Read Chapter 18 here.

The pace picks up quite a bit from the previous chapters.  Jesus and the disciples now truly do rise and get on their way, as Jesus said at the end of Chapter 14.  A blog reader has proposed that the words of the past few chapters were actually conversations that Jesus and the disciples had as they were walking from the supper to the garden. I like that idea - Jesus is praying for his disciples as his arrest is imminent.

The disciples and Jesus go into the garden.  Judas (the betrayer) meets them with soldiers and the temple police.  The text highlights Jesus’ omniscience:

Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” (verse 4)

They say they are looking for Jesus, and he says, “I am he.”  This is not usually counted as one of this gospel’s famous “I am” statements, but a commentary I read posited that this is the most important “I am” statement of all.  The commentary said Jesus is quoting God’s name – “I am that I am” or “I will be what I will be” – as God reveals to Moses in Exodus 3:14.  A main theme of this gospel is Jesus’ authority and his being sent from God, so Jesus’ statement here is significant.  

The soldiers and police don’t move to arrest Jesus; rather they fall to the ground.  Are they worshiping him? Are they afraid of him? Whatever their motivation, their movement recognizes Jesus’ authority.  Jesus has to ask them again who they are after, and again Jesus says that he is the very person they seek.  He is not trying to escape or deny his identity.  He also asks for the police to let the disciples go.  

It is at this point that Peter gets belligerent, and cuts off the right ear of the slave of the high priest with his sword.  Yes, this gospel which has been on a high spiritual plane includes this precise detail.  Jesus chides Peter, telling him to put away his sword.  Jesus knows there is no use fighting the inevitable:

“Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Which means, I must drink the cup.

The soldiers and police arrest Jesus, tie him up, and bring him before the Jewish leadership, and then the local Roman ruler.  

First they take their prisoner to Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest Caiaphas.  The gospel author reminds us that Caiaphas is the one who said that the leaders should arrange to have one man die for all the people.  (11:51-53)

Two disciples, identified as Simon Peter and another disciples who “was known to the high priest”, attempt to follow Jesus.  The Other Disciple gets Peter into the inner courtyard of the high priest’s place.  The guard at the gate asks Peter if he is one of the prisoner’s disciples.  Peter says “I am not.”  Denial number 1.

I just have to pause to observe that 1) Peter has a sword,  2) one of the disciples knows the high priest and 3) the guard at the high priest’s gate is a woman.  These are unexpected.  But it’s what the text says.

The folks in the high priest’s courtyard have made a fire because it is cold.  This is the kind of detail that we are getting for this part of the story.  It is worthwhile to remember that it is also still night.  Peter is standing with the others, warming himself at the fire.

The scene now switches to the interrogation of Jesus (verses 19-23).  In response to the high priest’s questions about his teaching, Jesus only says, I’ve spoken openly in synagogues and the temple, and haven’t kept anything a secret, so why are you asking me this?  Ask those who were listening to me.  

This is a cheeky way to address the high priest, and one of the police slaps Jesus on the face, addressing Jesus in a demeaning way:  “Is that how you answer the high priest?”  Jesus says, if I have said anything wrong, testify as to how it is wrong.  But if I am speaking the truth, why do you hit me?

Then the text says that Annas sent Jesus to the high priest, whereas in verse 19 it said that “the high priest questioned Jesus” - an inconsistency, but I think the main point is that Jesus is being passed along to all the authorities.

We swing back to observe the courtyard where Peter is standing at the fire.  The others ask Peter if he is a disciple of Jesus.  Peter says again “I am not.”  Denial number 2.  I wonder if the phrasing here is meant to counter Jesus’ statement “I am he.” 

A relative of the poor guy whose ear was lopped off by Peter gets more pointed - Didn’t I see you in the garden with Jesus?  Peter denies it, and just then the cock crows.  Peter has denied Jesus three times, just as Jesus predicted back in 13:38.

Peter wanted to be loyal.  After Jesus’ arrest, he didn’t stand around wringing his hands.  He didn’t go home to try to sleep.  He has followed Jesus to the place of his interrogation, which is quite brave.  But Peter is unable to take the final step and openly declare his loyalty to Jesus to his enemies, to those who hold the weapons.  Just as the rest of us humans often do.

Next “they” take Jesus to Pilate’s headquarters.  The NRSV text doesn’t identify Pilate’s position, and this is the first time he is mentioned by name in this gospel.  The footnote says the word for “headquarters” is praetorium, and perhaps this is the clue to those hearing this story that Pilate is a Roman authority. Other translations say “to the Roman governor’s palace.”  From what follows we can surmise that Pilate is a man of great authority.

The text is clear that Jesus goes into the headquarters, but those who brought him do not, because to enter there would render them ritually unclean.  I wonder about the subtext of this - Jesus is just as Jewish as the Jewish leaders.  Is there a greater meaning to the fact that Jesus has entered the Roman praetorium?

The author also notes that “It was early in the morning.”  Jesus and those disciples who followed have been awake all night.  Everyone must be exhausted and on edge.

Pilate asks those who brought Jesus to him, what is your accusation against this man?  They evade the question:  “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” 

Pilate tells the Jewish leaders to handle this case themselves, but the leaders say they are not allowed to carry out the death penalty themselves.  

Pilate decides to interrogate Jesus himself.  

[Pilate] summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”  Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”

Jesus, once again in front of an authority, speaks as an equal, not subserviently.  Jesus and Pilate proceed to have a back-and-forth, but with less animosity than Jesus’ interactions with the Pharisees in the earlier chapters.  

Pilate says, I’m not a Jew, but your own people arrested you and brought you to me.  What did you do?  Jesus reverts to the more typical kind of answer he has given in this gospel:

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” (verse 36)

Pilate is not cowed.  He asks, “So you are a king?”  Jesus says, that’s what you say.  And a more ethereal response:

For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”  (verse 38)

Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

Indeed, that is the question.  There is no answer; that is the end of the interrogation.  We are left to answer the question for ourselves.

Pilate goes back to the Jewish leaders who arrested Jesus and says, I’ve found no reason for his arrest.  But the custom is for me to release a prisoner in honor of the Passover holiday. “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”  They shout that no, they want Pilate to release Barrabas, who was a robber.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The Gospel of John, Chapter 17: Prayer

The Gospel of John, Chapter 17: Prayer

Read Chapter 17 here.

Chapter 17 consists entirely of a prayer Jesus prays.  Sometimes Jesus speaks of himself in the third person.  The language is liturgical and repetitive. In Eugene Peterson’s The Message translation (link above), it appears as a poem or psalm.  I’ll take it in the opposite direction, and summarize with (gasp) bullet points:

  • Glorify your Son so the Son may glorify you (third person)

  • He has authority over all people (third person)

  • He can give eternal life (third person)

  • Eternal life means knowing you, God and Jesus Christ whom you sent.

  • I (switch to first person) made your name known to those whom you gave me.

  • They received the words from you.

  • I am asking on their behalf.

  • Protect them.

  • The world has hated them because they do not belong to the world.

  • Protect them from the evil one.

  • Make them holy in the truth.

  • And I also ask on behalf of future believers, those who will believe in me [through the words of the disciples]

The top 12 words in the prayer are:













My word counter ( eliminates small connecting words like “in”, but this passage has a lot of the preposition “in” + pronoun:  in me, in you, in them, in us.  There is a lot of “being in.” 

At the start of this Chapter 17 prayer Jesus says: 

“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.  I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed. (verses 17:1-5)

Lots of glorifying there.  Glorify means “to praise, extol, magnify, celebrate, honor.” (Strong’s Concordance)

In verses 1-5 which I quoted above, we see some of the themes from the opening words from Chapter 1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. …. 

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, … No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

- Chapter 1, verses 1-4, 14, 18.

In his prayer Jesus also recalls the Logos (Word) of Chapter 1:

  • I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. (verse 6)

  • I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. (verse 14)

  • Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (verse 17)

  • I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word,  that they may all be one. (verse 20-21a)

In each of these verses “word” is “logos” in Greek.  It can have so many layers of meaning in this prayer.

Jesus prays for protection from evil for his followers, present and future.  

Jesus ends his prayer with a request for God’s love to be in his followers:

 “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (verses 17: 25-26)

Jesus’ prayer includes many of the themes we’ve seen all along in this gospel, as you can probably tell from the list of the top 12 words (above).  The prayer is infused with a poetical sense of belonging, loyalty, unity.  It’s so poignant, juxtaposed with the upcoming separation that Jesus is facing.

In the next chapter Jesus will begin the painful and humiliating path to death on the cross.