A Foundational Prayer
by Dan Kidd
One of many remarkable things about John's Gospel is how much of it is devoted to what Jesus said to, and prayed over, his disciples during their last meal together before his arrest and execution. Four whole chapters are committed to this final passover supper--Jesus' last opportunity to prepare his disciples for his Passion and the continuation of his ministry through his disciples. Our passage joins Jesus as he prays over his apostles, those in the room with him, and those who would come to believe in Jesus because of their witness to him. Here, in this prayer, we hear his foundational commission of his disciples that would resonated throughout history and across the world, leading to our very own devotion to Christ. That is, we--you and I--are the blessed beneficiaries of the holy and trustworthy word, attested to by these sanctified evangelists who heard, believed, and proclaimed the Gospel of the Lord.
Notice that though Jesus was leaving his beloved friends, he prays that they would have the "full measure of [his] joy within them." Notice too that, even though Peter had not yet betrayed him, Jesus identified these disciples as being not of the world as he was not of the world. Somehow they were simultaneously capable of denying Jesus and yet also transcending their worldliness. I thank God that is true. Because, if it were not for these individuals, who knew him, devoted themselves to him, and then gave witness to him, we would not know Jesus as we do. In this prayer we hear from Jesus his intentions to encounter us in the Scriptures they would come to write.
Our foundation, as a Christ-centered community, is the true and trustworthy witness of the apostles and prophets, committed to the pages of Scripture and shared among the whole community of God's people. Jesus' prayer was that we would hear and believe these disciples' words so that we would be so entirely unified that we we would be one just as the Son and the Father are one. What's more, it is because of our distinctions and diversity that we have so much to offer each other's faith. The Bible was written in community for community, and it comes alive to us because every single Spirit-filled person offers the unique gift of themselves to the rest of us--their witness, their perspective, their interpretation.
At UALC, we share the Bible with each other in a number of ways, including our Daily Worship devotions, our small groups, and our various Bible studies that take place throughout the week--to name only a few. It is because we are committed to making the the witness of the apostles and prophets our foundation, and Christ our cornerstone, that we intentionally, gladly, and routinely share and enjoy God's word with one another.
Father, we pray now as Jesus prayed for us, please unify us so completely that we would be made one as you are one with the Son. Let us hear your Bible, and share it with one another, that we would encounter you and believe in you with our whole selves. Wherever there is division among us, hem us together again. Let it be, Lord, that you are our cornerstone, and that we would be firmly founded upon your good word.