7th Sunday of Easter | John 17:1-11 | The High Priestly Prayer



Jesus said:

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven…

(Jn 16:33b-17:1a)


We’ll come back to that.


This last Thursday marked 40 days since Easter Sunday;

40 days of Resurrection,

40 days of joy,

40 days of Jesus full-blast!


The only catch, if you can call it that, was that those wonderful 40 days were capped off with Jesus Ascension into heaven.

And if you were here on Thursday morning to see Him off, then you know:

It was a bit awkward.


We had only just gotten used to having Him back.

And we would have clung to Him as long as He would let us.

But now, as we sang in our processional hymn,

Christ is ascended and seated in glory;

The glory that was His with the Father before the world existed.


That, obviously, is very good for Jesus,

But it is good for us, too.


Because while it is true that we can’t see Him in the same way the Apostles did,

Or in the same way those hundreds and hundreds of eyewitnesses did

Throughout those 40 days,

We know exactly what He’s up to (no pun intended).

It’s there in the Gospel text appointed for this morning.


I know it seems utterly anachronistic – i.e. completely backward and out of order.

Jesus is risen.

Jesus is ascended.

Jesus is seated in glory.

And yet this morning’s Gospel brings us right back to the night on which He was betrayed.

But this is not a mistake.



For those Apostles who saw Jesus carried away, wrapped in the clouds;

For those Christians who only heard their report;

For you and for me, now almost 2000 years later,


The Highly Priestly Prayer of Christ is the answer to the question,

“What’s He doing right now?”


To put it simply: Jesus is praying.

And more specifically, He is praying for you.

By way of paraphrase, that prayer goes something like this:


“Father, I have authority over all flesh to give eternal life;

And when I say, ‘give eternal life,’ of course I mean this:

That they know You, the only true God, and Me, who You sent.


I did everything I was sent to do.

I saved them on the cross where you glorified Me and I glorified You.

And now, here We are in glory Together, and we are One, just like always.


I showed everyone who You are – The Apostles, the Church, those folks in Raynham.

They were Yours, and You gave them to Me, and in Me,

By the power of the Holy Spirit, they have kept Your Word.


They now know I came from You.

They know that everything I give them comes from You.

Baptism, the forgiveness of sins, the Holy spirit, faith, eternal life – all of it.


We created the world.

And I love the world as You have loved the world – that’s why You sent Me.

Now, I’m not praying for the world in its rebellion against You,

But that it may be saved through the Word Your children share (vv. 20-23).


That’s who I’m praying for most: Your dear children, who are still there –

All my little brothers and sisters,

That they would remain inside Your Name,

In the Church, in their Baptism, within Your Holy Commandments,

In Faith, In Your Word, in Me and My holy wounds.”


That’s what Jesus was praying for then,

And that’s what He’s praying for now.


It’s an especially good to keep in mind on a day like today, when we remember that

This last week at least 50 Christians were martyred around the world.




28 of them – including 10 children in Egypt,

Were captured on a bus taking them to pray,

And executed on the side of the road.


On top of that,

You’ve lost loved ones. You’re sick. You’re sad. You’re hurt and hurting others.

You’re anxious. You’re lonely. You’re undone.


So I don’t blame you if you feel the need to ask again:
“What’s He doing right now?”

“Why did He get to float off on a cloud while we suffer here?”

“What’s He doing right now?”


In one way, the answer is the same: Jesus is praying.


But for that to make sense, you’ll have to chase His prayer to verse 22:


“The glory that You have given Me I have given to them,

That they may be one even as We are one, I in them and You in me,

That they may become perfectly one,

So that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me.


Father, I desire that they also,

Whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am,

To see my glory that You have given Me

Because You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”


We will suffer in this world as Jesus suffered in this world.

And we pray, with Jesus, that those sufferings,

Along with every other thing we know as good, right and salutary – all of it –

We pray that all of that would glorify God, and serve our neighbor.


There is one God; one Christ; one Cross –

And every Christian is eventually pressed into it.


In Holy Baptism you were joined to Christ’s death and resurrection,

By which He has raised our human nature.


At the beginning of the High Priestly Prayer, Jesus looks up into heaven.

And now, seated at the right hand of God, He merely turns His head.


And since Jesus’ prayers are always answered with a “Yes,”

You, dear Christian, shall do likewise, and behold God face-to-face

In the resurrection.

It is for that reason and no other, that the Apostles returned from the Mount of Ascension to Jerusalem with joy and thanksgiving, praising God, and devoting themselves to prayer with Mary, Jesus mother, the women, and all the brothers.


They’re not ignorant or excited.

They get it now.
They know what is coming their way.

They understand that they are all diving face-first into martyrdom.


And yet the big concern is getting to the work of God’s Kingdom,

By appointing Matthias to share in their suffering and their labors, as an Apostle.

That’s what’s next for them, and for us.


Jesus ascended after 40 days with the promise that He would send the Holy Spirit,

And that He would return to take them to Himself.

But we have no idea when that will be.


For we poor sinners suffer daily,

So, of course, we’d like Him back now.


But whenever it is, we know He will return just as He promised.

He’ll return with power and great glory,

With the shout of an archangel and wrapped in the clouds, just the way He ascended.


But until then, He will come to us as He does this day:
With grace and blessing,

Loving us fully, and forgiving more sins that we’ve got.

At the proclamation of His Word,

Descending to the altar,

Wrapped in bread and wine.


That’s what He’s doing now.



About Pastor Hopkins