Jesus Prays for Us

My dad died 13 years ago and went to his grave never knowing his biological father.  There were even times the thought and wonder consumed him – causing him to often rely on alcohol to ease his pain of the not knowing.  For whatever reason, he just could not let it go.

Growing up as a child, I called the man married to my  grandmother, my grandfather.  When I was told the truth that my grandfather was not my biological grandfather, it began to answer a lot of questions about my dad’s pain that I often witnessed.

Of course, I began to ask a lot of questions and wondered what this meant for me.  Who am I? Is my maiden name really my maiden name? What are my roots on my dad’s side? Who are my ancestors?  And so, I have considered sending my DNA to Ancestory.com.  I won’t know who my grandfather’s name is, but at least I’ll know my roots and where I came from.

So, I went to Ancestory.com to see what would be involved for me to send my DNA so that I could understand my roots.  Here is what I found:

Discover what makes you uniquely you.

For Mother’s Day, show the strongest woman you know where her strength comes from.

After all, your family story is the story that leads you.

This was enticing.  I clicked the button that says, “Know more about your DNA” – And wow! For only $99 I can learn the complete story of me! And so, I have been contemplating whether to send my DNA to Ancestry.com.

In John 17:6-19, Jesus prays for His disciples. This text has rocked me to my core. I read it.  I then read it again…and again and again, and again.  I kept wondering:  Why would Jesus pray for me?  Why would Jesus pray for his disciples?  Why would Jesus pray for the Church?

I began to think about why I wanted to become a pastor.  No doubt, it was because I wanted to spread the Word about Jesus’ love for all people.  I love evangelism because I experience Christ by seeing others transformed from hearing the Word of God!  This is where I find my joy! I’m so passionate about mission, ministry, and outreach that I wanted more than anything to be with other believers who wanted to share in what I believe, we are called to do in the world. I love the unity of fellow Christians who seek the same goal of doing ministry in the name of Jesus Christ!

 After have been a pastor for a few years, I had a friend ask me, “What was the one thing that you were most disappointed about when you became a pastor?” I responded that I was most disappointed when I realized that others did not have the passion to participate in the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ that I so much loved to do.  It was an eye-opening reality for me and has been a difficult journey over-all.

And, so as I think about my love for ministry and mission and what God is calling me to do, it is by no means easy in anyway. The reason is that the secular world tugs at us in every direction!

So, why does Jesus pray for me?  Why does Jesus pray for us?  Why does Jesus pray for the church? Here is what I think:

Jesus knew how hard it would be for us to keep Christ central in our lives – not just in our personal lives, but also in our church.  Jesus knew that if others saw our joy in doing ministry, they would hate us for it. Jesus knew that we would fail in honoring Christ in life and speech.  Jesus knew how difficult it would be to avoid enticements that can ruin our relationship with Him, and how it can even ruin the church.

The truth of the matter is that there is God and there is Satan. The only way for us to do God’s will is to have full disclosure of both realities! Jesus knows better than anyone what it means to be in the World where evil resides. Jesus knows better than anyone, that we live between two tensions – GOD and SATAN. It was difficult for him and it is difficult for us. For any of us, it is not an easy balance to sustain.

But, there is another reason why I think that Jesus would pray for us. And, that is because He loves us and he loves this church. This prayer comes straight from Jesus’ heart.  This prayer comes from ‘straight out’ Love for his believers. It is the night before his crucifixion, faced with an immediate future that will include betrayal, trial, condemnation, beating and execution. But, Jesus stops.  He stops everything and prays for those He loves! When in all reality, He is the One the disciples should have been praying for. But yet ,even knowing what is about to happen, Jesus stops to pray for us – his disciples – his believers.

But, I felt like there was still something that I was missing. These were obvious reasons to me that as we live as Christians in this world – the secular world exists between God and Satan. And second, Jesus loves us – For He came to save us, not condemn us!

As I sat and read this prayer over and over again trying to grasp why Jesus would pray for me and for us, I was struck by verse 16: Jesus says to His Father: “They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world…” So, then…Where do I belong?  Where do we belong? Jesus then says, ”These believers were yours God, and you gave them to me. All mine are yours and yours are mine.”

We belong to Christ. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches,  We are the ones who are called to bear fruit in His name. We belong to Jesus! Therefore, our roots are in Jesus Christ, His Father, and the Holy Spirit! We are one and Jesus prays that we will always be one!

And, one more thing, we have been sanctified! We have been set apart from the rest of the world!  That while we live in the world just as Jesus did, this world is not our home. Jesus invites us to make our home in him when He calls us to abide in Him and we abide in him.

And so here is the thing, just as God gave Jesus what it took to accomplish his mission, so now Jesus summons God to give us what it will take for his followers to complete our mission for Christ. What is our mission?

We are called to forgive one another!

We are called to Word and Sacrament.

We are called to be faithful to the CHURCH.

We are called to be in a habit of a Bible Study.

And, most importantly we are called for concern for Jesus’s mission!

We are called to be in the world through outreach and ministry.

So you see, this prayer that Jesus prays for His disciples changes everything!  My dad lived his life wondering who was his biological father and what that might mean to him. But, you know what breaks my heart?  Is that it really doesn’t matter who his biological dad was– And, he never could see all the blessings God had given to him.  And, it doesn’t matter for me who my biological grandfather was.

I decided that I don’t need to send in my DNA to Ancestory,com to know where I come from. In fact, I think I’ll save my money. Jesus Christ is my DNA!  And Jesus is your DNA! Our home is in Jesus. Jesus is the root of my soul. Jesus is the root of your soul.  As disciples, our hearts are grounded in the love of Jesus Christ.

Ancestery.com states:

Discover what makes you uniquely you.

For Mother’s Day, show the strongest woman you know where her strength comes from.

After all, your family story is the story that leads you.

Discover what makes you uniquely you through your passion to do ministry, mission, and outreach in the name of Jesus Christ. This is where you will find Complete Joy and discover what makes you uniquely you! And, once experienced, you will yearn for more!

And, where does your strength come from? It comes from a God who loves you so much that he took the time to PRAY for YOU just before His crucifixion of a brutal death.

Just as God gave Jesus the strength and everything he needed to carry out his mission, God will give you the strength and everything you need to carry out your mission for Jesus Christ.

Your family story is the story that leads you.  Your family story is the Story of God!   God’s story is your story that will lead you and sustain you in this life – And, not only in this life, but also into the next life of eternity with your Lord.

Amen.

About pastorterrihttps://pastorterri.wordpress.comI serve as the pastor at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, Augusta, GA.

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