Sermon for the Gospel reading John 17:1-13.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
In our last Bible Study class this week, we looked at the only prayer that Christ gave to His disciples, the only prayer that He Himself taught us to pray. He said, “When you pray, pray like this ‘Our Father…’”
This is the only prayer that Christ gave to us. The New Testament mentions a few times that Christ prayed, but we barely know how He prayed and for what He prayed.
In today’s Gospel reading Evangelist John provides one of the rare examples of the words with which Jesus prayed. And these are some stark words. He begins the prayer by asking His Father to glorify His Son. He prays for His disciples, that God the Father would protect them, so that they may be one, as Father and Son are One.
But one sentence stands out. Christ says that eternal life is to know God. He says, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” The knowledge of God that leads to eternal life comes only through knowing Christ.
What does it mean to know God? How do we acquire it through knowing Christ? This means, first of all, that we believe in Christ. But not some abstract belief. One of my professors in seminary used to always say, “If someone tells you they believe in Christ, ask ‘which one?’” The point is that we tend to make up our own Christ, we want Him to be people-pleaser, a genie in the bottle, but not the Son of God.
Christ came into the world, became man, lived and preached among us, was betrayed, suffered, was crucified for our salvation, died, resurrected, and ascended back to His Father. In one sentence, this is who Christ is.
Now knowing who Christ is, how do we get to know God the Father through Christ? By living out our Christian life. But, you might ask, what is it? Is it going to church often and receive Communion? Or is it following the commandments of Christ? Or is Christian life reading the Bible? Or maybe praying and fasting?
Before I give an answer, I would like to ask you a question – what’s more important for our physical survival: eating or breathing? Take away one, and we are done, right?
With our Christian life it is the same. All of the aspects this life are interconnected, by taking away one, we lose everything. Believing in Christ, as He really is, not in some made up way, going to church and participating in sacraments, following Christ’s commandments, reading the Bible, praying, fasting, all of these are part of our faith.
We can’t say that one is more important than the other, in the same way we can’t say that eating is more important than breathing. God does not expect perfection from us, we are weak and fallen after all, but He does want us to show an effort, to desire to be saved. By living out our Christian life we come to know Christ, and He leads us to His Father.
As Christ also prayed today, His disciples, and in turn we, are no longer of this world. We have been separated from the world by the Word and teaching of Christ. Not belonging to the world, means belonging to God.
May we attain the knowledge of God that leads to eternal life through Christ our Lord.