John 17 allows us to “eavesdrop” as Jesus prays for his disciples in anticipation of his death, resurrection and ascension. They will be “in the world” without his physical presence. But Pentecost is coming next week, so we know they will not be alone! And we learn much from what Jesus asks for his disciples: That they may be one as he and the Father are one; that they may have his joy fulfilled in them; and that they will be kept from the evil one.
The Letter of John declares that he who has the Son (has a living communion with Jesus Christ) has eternal life – a life that is greater than this world. God gave us Christ to offer the way into this life. It is offered, but John’s letter notes that not all believe or receive this offer.
In the Acts of the Apostles, we see the disciples organizing themselves by rebuilding the symbolic number of original apostles to the “twelve” in light of the death of Judas Iscariot. The criteria is simple – the “replacement apostle” must have been present with the Jesus in all the time the Lord was with them from John’s baptism, through his death and resurrection, until Jesus final leave taking at the ascension.
Comment: The deep desire of Jesus for us, and the gift he asks for us, is to be one as he and the Father are one. To be united with God! Among other things, this tells me that God loves us and wants to share his unlimited and ever-expanding (eternal) life with us. Perhaps too often we Christians have thought of this life as something waiting beyond us in heaven. While that is also true, it seems clear that Jesus means for this unlimited life to be taking hold of you and me here and now, just as he taught us to pray, “on earth as it is in heaven.” How amazing then, that I so often prefer the life that I can manage to arrange for myself. Lord, send your Spirit and open my heart to a life with you that is infinitely greater than any life I could ever create for myself!