Receiving the Spirit: peace

Pentecost3The Johannine account of the first post-resurrection appearance to the gathered disciples is linked to the events of the Resurrection by the simple expression “that first day.” As the startling and disturbing events of the last three days had unfolded the community’s overriding response was fear. They had gathered, but had locked themselves away out of fear of what persecutions the religious authorities might bring against them. It is into this complex of uncertainty, perhaps doubt and hesitation, that Jesus appears. Continue reading

Receiving the Spirit: context

Pentecost319 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 (Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Continue reading

Doubts and all

When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted… (Mt 20:17)

We are a little uncomfortable with that doublet:  worshiped, doubted.  I mean these are the apostles – they have been with Jesus for three years and have seen incredible signs and wonders, the lame have walked, the deaf hear and mute speak.  Surely these apostles would be people of great faith. Continue reading

Reason to celebrate

The Ascension of the Lord is a great celebration of the Church. It commemorates the bodily ascension of Jesus into heaven. According to St. Luke it occurred 40 days after the Resurrection (Acts 1:3). It is a feast of great antiquity with liturgies and art of the 4th century already addressing it as a norm of the Church. In the Eastern Church this feast is known in Greek as Analepsis, the “taking up,” and also as the Episozomene, the “salvation from on high,” indicating that by ascending into his glory Christ completed the work of our redemption. Continue reading

Jesus’ prayer: relationships

Father and Son (vv. 1–5) By lifting up his eyes toward heaven (17:1), Jesus strikes a customary posture in prayer (cf. Ps. 123:1; Mark 7:34; Luke 18:13). The first unit in this prayer is Jesus’ intercession for himself (17:1–5). Jesus’ opening petition, “Father, … Glorify your Son, in order that the Son may glorify you” (v.1), implies Jesus’ claim to deity, as the OT affirms that God will not give his glory to another (e.g., Isa. 42:8; 48:11). God’s granting of authority to Jesus (17:2; cf. 5:27) marks the inbreaking of a new era (Isa. 9:6–7; Dan. 7:13–14; Matt. 11:27; 28:18;). Continue reading

Jesus’ prayer: petitions

These chapters of farewell discourse (chs. 13–17) are brought to a fitting conclusion by Jesus’ prayer in chapter 17. This whole chapter is one long prayer directed by Jesus to the Father, his own solemn expansion, one might say, of the simple “Our Father” he taught his disciples in Matt 6 and Luke 11. Positioned between heaven and earth, between his Father and his disciples, Jesus prays for believers present and future. There are many schemas for understanding this chapter, however, it is perhaps best considered by simply following the context of Jesus’ prayer as follows:

  • Father and Son
  • Son and current disciples
  • Son and future disciples

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Jesus’ prayer: context

1 When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, 2 just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. 3 Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. 4 I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began. 6 “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, 8 because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, 10 and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.

Introduction. “Jesus’ prayer in John 17:1–26 is the final scene of his farewell meal with his disciples. Since the sixteenth century, the traditional title of this prayer has been ‘Jesus’ high priestly prayer.’” (O’Day, 787) It shares many similarities with farewell speeches in the OT, e.g., Moses in Deuteronomy (31:30-32:47) as the Israelites are entering the promised land and Moses is at the end of his life. Continue reading

Ascension: the nations

 All power…all nations… all that I have commanded you…with you always – One should be struck by the repetition of the word “all” in this passage:

  1. Jesus has been given all power (v.18).
  2. Disciples are to be made of all nations (v.19).
  3. Disciples are to obey all that Jesus commanded (v.20).
  4. Jesus will be with the disciples always (literally “all the days”; v.20).

The universality of Jesus’ power and his continuing presence provide the dynamic for the universal discipleship mandate. The disciples will be able to make disciples of all the nations only as they recognize that Jesus has been given all authority and that he will be with them all the days until the end. The universal task is daunting, but it can be done because of the continuing power and presence of Jesus. Continue reading

Ascension: but they doubted

Commentary – Jesus was from Galilee and since the beginning of his public ministry had moved from the northern most reaches of Israel to its center in Jerusalem – the locus of the confrontation and rejection by the leaders of Israel. But now the “Galilean” has triumphed against all odds and it a manner none had foreseen.   The preparation of the “twelve” was not lost in their abandoning Jesus at the Passion. They are now restored to their positions of trust and responsibility and given final instructions for fulfilling the mission to which they had already been called (cf. 10:1-15) – but the scope is now far wider than Israel and included all the nations (28:19) Continue reading

Ascension: context

 Matthew 28:16-20 16 The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. 18 Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Continue reading