Last Prayer Of Jesus

“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. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you, for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 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. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Scripture Reading
John 17:6-19 (NRSVUE)

The gospel reading for today from the revised common lectionary is the famous LONGGG Jesus prayer in the gospel of John written approximately between year 90 to 120 AD or around about 60 to 90 years after the crucifixion of the historical Jesus of Nazareth. It was written at a time when Christianity was already separated from the Jews and are already, I would say, 90 to 95% gentiles. It is safe to assume that almost all of the apostles were already martyred or died of natural causes and there would have been very few, if at all, any first-generation Christians. 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation Christians na ang meron by the time that gospel of John was written. The gospel itself, while attributed to the apostle John, most likely did not write the gospel. It might have been written by one of the 2nd or 3rd generation Christians na follower ni Apostle John hence the attribution. Other’s claim that this gospel along with the 3 letters and the book of revelation might have been written by a certain John of Patmos who may not really be the apostle John. The historicity of this prayer is doubtful. Perhaps there are bits and pieces of the prayer that might have come from Jesus himself, but we do not know for sure. BUT it is sufficient to say that Jesus of this gospel and the gospel story itself contextualized and imagined in the light of their current experiences and struggles as a persecuted community of Christians cared and prayed for his followers. There was very little chika about other things, topics, and possibilities about Jesus and Jesus’ words in the first gospel, the gospel of Mark. And one that caught the attention of the writer of the gospel of John would be, nung malapit ng mamatay si Hesus, during the last supper, ano kaya ang iba pang chika ni Jesus sa kanyang maiiwang mga followers? What else could Jesus have said to his followers knowing he is about to die and leave them? Ano kaya ang kanyang huling habilin? Ano kaya ang mga concern nya sa kanyang mga followers? Not just the first followers and the first generation Christians, pero ano kaya ang posibleng chika ni Jesus for all his followers lalo na sa amin who never met him, 60 years after? 

And so, the writer of the gospel of John, using whatever material information he has from the stories of the apostle and other first generation na nakahalubulo nya, wrote this LLLONG Jesus discourse of the last supper including this prayer of Jesus where Jesus is entrusting his followers to Go – to keep them safe. Maging ligtas sila. To keep them united. Praying so ardently na hindi nila makalimutan ang mga habilin at turo nya. That they may have and keep his Joy – the joy of Jesus within them – even in the midst of struggles, violence, and persecution.

The intention of the Jesus prayer is also both to encourage persecuted Christians and to remind them to whom they belong; to whom they have assurance, hope, joy, and salvation; to remind them of the Truth they have received – God’s word made flesh who walked and ate with some of them 60 to 90 years ago. Ang panalangin ni Hesus sa gospel of John ay nagsisilbing pampalakas ng kalooban sa harap ng mga kaguluhan, pag-papaalala sa kung sino ang kanilang sinasampalatayanan at katotohanang kanyang inihayag, at pagbibigay pag-asa sa harap ng kasamaan at mga pagpatay.

Unahan ko na muna, hindi naman lahat ng magulang ay mabuting magulang. Despite the ideal mother figure, hindi lahat ng ina o nanay ay mabuting nanay for whatever reason. And even the majority of parents and mothers, try as they can, barely live-up to the standards and ideals of motherhood or parenthood. 

Gayun pa man, para sa isang magulang o in ana nagsusumikap na maging mabuting magulang, bagaman hindi perfect, ganito rin naman ata ang kanilang iniisip sa kanilang mga anak lalo na sa kanilang pagtanda at nalalapit na pagpanaw specially now with everything that is happening in our country and world today – paano ang aking anak o mga anak na maiiwan? Ano ang mangyayari sa kanila? Ano ang buhay na kanilang raranasin given sa nangyayari sa ating mundo at bansa? At tayong mga LGBT, some of us, medyo relate tayo dyan sa ganyang eksena kasi minsan yung usapin ng ating sexuality or gender identity ay pumapaloon sa concern ng magulang natin sa kinabukasan… “Sinong mag-aalaga sayo sa pagtanda mo?” While this will elicit a lot negative reaction, I think the core concern is still valid despite the question being problematic. Genuine ang pag-aalala ng ating magulang na wala namang masyadong alam sa makabagong perspektibo ng pagpapamilya at ibang uri ng pamumuhay labas sa tradisyonal na pamilya at buhay na kanilang kinagisnan. I have heard this a number of times also, that some parents are worried for their queer children because they perceive that this world is cruel to LGBTQIA+ people. Ayoko syang maging bakla o lesbian kasi mapanakit, mapang-husga, at mas-mahirap ang mundong ito para sa kanila. If it is possible to spare them from the cruelty of this world by NOT being LGBT, then I pray and hope na straight ang aking anak.

The prayer of Jesus in the gospel of John, written in the context of struggle, persecution, and cruelty is a prayer of concern, reminder, and encouragement. In the context and intention of this prayer, Jesus cares for us, the marginalized, the persecuted, the discriminated, and the oppressed. He cares for us like a parent who is genuinely worried for her children living by themselves in a cruel world. And this includes LGBTQIA+ people.

Now, in the prayer I am particularly struck with these lines:

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. 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 

I have given them your word -Jesus has given us his word, and what is that word, LOVE. Agape. The central discourse of the John-tradition (Gospel and letters) is the teaching and commandment of sacrificial, enduring, life-giving, and all-embracing love. 

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them – A love that flattens the Patri Familus system of the Roman Empire. A love that makes no distinction between Jews and gentiles, slaves or free, women and men. A love that ensures the welfare and well-being of each one. That leadership is about calling and gifts, and not gender. That was the Christian practice of love in the first century that threatened Roman society. Hence the world hated them. And today, we have received the same word of Jesus – the teaching and commandment of love – a radical love that does not distinguish nor judge based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression and the world hates us for it. Christians hate us for it. Discriminates and vilify us for the same all-embracing, life-giving, and sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. 

because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. – Remembering some LGBTQIA+ Filipinos being told, “wala kayong puwang sa lugar na natin. Kayo ay marumi. Hindi pinapakinggan ng Diyos ang inyong mga panalangin. Walang ginawang bakla ang Diyos. There’s no such thing as a gay Christian. Either you are a straight cis-gendered Christian or you are LGBT living a life of sin outside the Christian faith” As both jews and roman imperial religion looks at Christians as heretics and as rebels in the first and second century, so too are we, progressive and queer Christians of today considered as heretics and rebels by the dominant church and by evangelical megachurches. 

I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.  – Meron tayong puwang sa mundong ito. Kabahagi tayo nito and I hold on to this prayer that we are protected and guarded not only from the evil one but from every form of evil. That in the face of any evil, God through Jesus with the power of the Holy Spirit, we are made strong to stand firm and to stand together. We are given courage to speak out and resist. We are anointed with wisdom to proclaim God’s love. Both as individuals and together as a community. 

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. – And what is that truth? What is God’s word? Jesus himself, his teaching and commandment of love, and his example of love. Loving those who suffer, loving the unlovable, and even loving his enemies: a love that is all-embracing, enduring, sacrificial, nurturing, and life-giving. God sanctifies us, the oppressed holds on to the truth of Jesus’ love. God sanctifies us, the suffering who try our best, hard as it is, to love the same way Jesus did. We are sanctified by God’s love when we reflect that same love. This echoes what is written in the first letter of John chapter 4 verse 16 – God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”

Kung ano anong kumplekadong truth ang pinagsasabi ng ibang mga Christians forgetting that the truth of God in Jesus will always be about love and true sanctification only comes from the same kind of love that Jesus taught and embodied, which the first century Christians practiced as dscribed in Acts 2 and Acts 4. Sabi nga sa kanta ni Jolina Magdangal:

… Sana’y pag-ibig na lang ang isipin Ng bawat isa sa mundo. Sana’y pag-ibig na lang ang isipin
Sana’y magkatotoo

… Sana’y laging magbigayan Sana’y laging magmahalan
Sana ang tao’y ‘Di nagugutom o nauuhaw

As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. – Jesus sends us. Progressive Christians – queer, trans, straight, black, white, brown, top, bottom, versa, side, asexual, lipstick, butch, non-binary, abled, differently abled, etc. We are sent out to bring God’s truth in Jesus – the truth of love – Agape. – A love that loves everyone including one’s own self. A love that loves community. A love that seeks to love a world hungry for love. We are sent to embody and proclaim that same truth that sanctified us so it may sanctify others. 

So ano man yang pinagdadaanan mo accla, whether this prayer of Jesus in John is historical or not, we can be sure that the truth it says and proclaims for the persecuted Christians in year 90 or 120 is still true for you and me today. Jesus cares for each of us as a mother who is worried for her children and entrust them to God’s protection, sanctification, and care. Easter is the triumph of love and life over the violence of empire. We are an Easter people sanctified by the truth of God’s love through the Risen Christ, a mother who cares for us, let us bravely go out towards Pentecost and Pride month to proclaim his love for those who need to healing and new life.

Open Table MCC is a church for all, including LGBT+ people. All are welcome! Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest news and events from our church community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *