Seventh Sunday of Pascha
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17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee,
2 since thou hast given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him.
3 And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.
4 I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do;
5 and now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made.
6 "I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them to me, and they have kept thy word.
7 Now they know that everything that thou hast given me is from thee;
8 for I have given them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9 I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom thou hast given me, for they are thine;
10 all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them.
11 And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
12 While I was with them, I kept them in thy name, which thou hast given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled.
13 But now I am coming to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
1 ΤΑΥΤΑ ἐλάλησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ἐπῆρε τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ εἶπε· πάτερ, ἐλήλυθεν ἡ ὥρα· δόξασόν σου τὸν υἱόν, ἵνα καὶ ὁ υἱός σου δοξάσῃ σε,
2 καθὼς ἔδωκας αὐτῷ ἐξουσίαν πάσης σαρκός, ἵνα πᾶν ὃ δέδωκας αὐτῷ δώσῃ αὐτοῖς ζωὴν αἰώνιον.
3 αὕτη δέ ἐστιν ἡ αἰώνιος ζωή, ἵνα γινώσκωσί σε τὸν μόνον ἀληθινὸν Θεὸν καὶ ὃν ἀπέστειλας Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν.
4 ἐγώ σε ἐδόξασα ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, τὸ ἔργον ἐτελείωσα ὃ δέδωκάς μοι ἵνα ποιήσω·
5 καὶ νῦν δόξασόν με σύ, πάτερ, παρὰ σεαυτῷ τῇ δόξῃ ᾗ εἶχον πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον εἶναι παρὰ σοί.
6 Ἐφανέρωσά σου τὸ ὄνομα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις οὓς δέδωκάς μοι ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου. σοὶ ἦσαν καὶ ἐμοὶ αὐτοὺς δέδωκας, καὶ τὸν λόγον σου τετηρήκασι.
7 νῦν ἔγνωκαν ὅτι πάντα ὅσα δέδωκάς μοι παρὰ σοῦ ἐστιν·
8 ὅτι τὰ ρήματα ἃ δέδωκάς μοι δέδωκα αὐτοῖς, καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔλαβον, καὶ ἔγνωσαν ἀληθῶς ὅτι παρὰ σοῦ ἐξῆλθον, καὶ ἐπίστευσαν ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας.
9 Ἐγὼ περὶ αὐτῶν ἐρωτῶ· οὐ περὶ τοῦ κόσμου ἐρωτῶ, ἀλλὰ περὶ ὧν δέδωκάς μοι, ὅτι σοί εἰσι,
10 καὶ τὰ ἐμὰ πάντα σά ἐστι καὶ τὰ σὰ ἐμά, καὶ δεδόξασμαι ἐν αὐτοῖς.
11 καὶ οὐκέτι εἰμὶ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, καὶ οὗτοι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ εἰσί, καὶ ἐγὼ πρὸς σὲ ἔρχομαι. πάτερ ἅγιε, τήρησον αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου ᾧ δέδωκάς μοι, ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν καθὼς ἡμεῖς.
12 ὅτε ἤμην μετ᾿ αὐτῶν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, ἐγὼ ἐτήρουν αὐτοὺς ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί σου· οὓς δέδωκάς μοι ἐφύλαξα, καὶ οὐδεὶς ἐξ αὐτῶν ἀπώλετο εἰ μὴ ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας, ἵνα ἡ γραφὴ πληρωθῇ.
13 νῦν δὲ πρὸς σὲ ἔρχομαι, καὶ ταῦτα λαλῶ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ ἵνα ἔχωσι τὴν χαρὰν τὴν ἐμὴν πεπληρωμένην ἐν αὐτοῖς.
Larger Thought Unit
Chapter 17 stands alone as a single unit. Today’s reading stops in the middle of the chapter which everyone recognizes as a long intercessory prayer for his followers, present and future. The chapter begins with the famous pronouncement: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may also glorify you.” It introduces the final procession toward Christ’s elevation/glorification on the cross (see Jn 3:14-15).
This reading reflects the scriptural tradition launched by Paul (see e.g. 1 Cor 15.12-23; 1 Thess 4.13-18) that Jesus, the messiah whom God raised from the dead, is alone glorified, and the members of the messianic community are to await his coming to inherit the kingdom: “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” (Jn 14:1-4) In the meantime, Jesus’ disciples are to follow the ‘way’ toward that kingdom, which is none other that the ‘way’ of Jesus himself: follow God’s directives (5:19-30). This is precisely what Jesus is asking of his disciples here. Eternal life is in the knowledge of God and his messiah (Jn 17:30). In turn this knowledge is imparted through the teaching of Jesus:
I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them to me, and they have kept thy word. Now they know that everything that thou hast given me is from thee; for I have given them the words which thou gavest me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me… But now I am coming to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. (vv.6-8, 13)
What Jesus imparts to his disciples is not something ‘about’ God, but rather something ‘from’ him, his word which is to be kept, i.e., heeded, if one is to be not of this world, but of God (see Jn 1:12-13). And it is this heeding of God’s directives—and not an abstract ‘theological’ knowledge—that will preserve the disciples from being shut out of God’s joy and kingdom. Indeed, it is the one who did not heed the words of Jesus that ended up under the curse of scripture, God’s word: “While I was with them, I kept them in thy name, which thou hast given me; I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (v.12) And this is no wonder, since just as it is God’s torah that keeps his people (inasmuch as they keep its instructions) so it is the messiah’s teaching that keeps his disciples (inasmuch as they keep it).
Once more we see again that the readings between Pascha and Pentecost revolve around, and underscore the centrality of, the teaching of God over the vision or the abstract ‘theological’ knowledge of a ‘deity’—which the scriptural God is not—and, more importantly, the keeping of his teaching. Just as God in the Old Testament is unseen, since he neither has nor is a statue, and is revealed both in and as the torah, the authority of the resurrected messiah lies precisely in that, at his glorification, he becomes unseen and is revealed through the apostolic ‘word’ of those commissioned by him. Whenever we do not heed this essential biblical—both Old Testament and New Testament—teaching, we make of the messiah as well as of his God ‘idols’ like the ‘deities’ of the nations. And we do not in fact heed this teaching whenever, instead of preaching the biblical readings on the basis of a sound exegesis of the text, we ramble into a ‘theological’ discourse that bedazzles our hearers instead of pointing to them the ‘way,’ not of ‘true faith,’ but of God’s salvation. Indeed, it is not the ‘theology’ of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension that saves, but the text itself of scripture, the sole acceptable face of God and his messiah. We shall see that the same applies to the next reading at Pentecost, the Feast of the outpouring of the spirit of God and his messiah.
Charles H. Talbert, Reading John, Crossroads Publishing Company, NY, NY, 1992; pp. 223ff.
Paul Nadim Tarazi, New Testament Introduction, Vol.3: Johannine Writings, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY, 2004; pp.230-2.