Eternal Life: John 17:1-13
A really interesting Gospel lesson Fr Nektary read earlier, however, it’s not like there is anything uninteresting in the Gospel.
The reading in the Gospel of John, is a prayer of Jesus to God, to God the Father to be exact.
This prayer, that Christ offers, is often called the High Priestly Prayer, because it contains the 4 basic elements of prayer, a priest in the Old Testament would offer to God when a sacrifice is about to be made:
- Glorification – “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
- Remembrance of God’s works – “…since You have given Him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him.” & “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me…”
- Intercession of behalf of others – ” 9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. 10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them“
- And finally, a declaration of the offering itself – “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:” & “5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was…”
Notice that the Lord says, “5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was…” which tells us: Eternal life is knowledge of God, that He is only and true, and that God the Father sent His Son for our salvation.
Simple, right? To Know God. Archbishop Averky tells us:
“And the light shines in the darkness”—the Word Who gives mankind the light of true knowledge, does not cease to guide mankind even in the darkness of sin, but the darkness did not apprehend it, that is, people who stubbornly continue in sin prefer to remain in the darkness of spiritual blindness (“and the darkness did not comprehend it.)”
What is there not to know? God is God – supreme, almighty, everywhere-present, listens to our prayers and does exactly as we ask Him to do. I wish I was joking, but very often our fabrication of God is exactly that – a vending machine of our wishes, or at least we hope He would be. This is partly due to our consumeristic culture – we provide the demand, the market spits out supply, all are happy.
Thankfully this is not the case with God. To really know God means to live in Him, according to His commands, to live with Him in His Church. It may sound a bit harsh, but it is impossible to know God outside of His Church. And I don’t mean just the church you go to, like your parish, like here at Holy Myrrhbearers, but the Universal Church, to which every Orthodox parish belongs, The Body of Christ!
Christians were meant to live together, as a community – one big Community made up of a bunch of small local communities. Our faith is personal, but it is lived communally, as family.
Jesus continues on, in the Gospel of John, this Sunday’s lesson with, ” 13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.“
Jesus said this prayer and gave us a lot of His teachings, both recorded in the Gospels and unrecorded but preserved in the Church, Holy Tradition, aloud. Everything He said was meant for us to have His joy made complete.
How or what is the joy of God? We don’t know and we can’t know in this world, there is simply too much corruption and lust and decay. We do get some taste of this joy communally. We worship together, when we share things together (for example, sharing the Gospel of Christ) or a meal, when we learn to love each other, as family, in the Body of Christ.
Why? Because that’s exactly what we will be doing in the Kingdom of God, in Eternal life – worshipping the One True God, sharing in His grace, and remaining in His Love.
If we can’t do these things in this temporary life, how can we expect to do them for all eternity?
Of course we could remain ignorant and say that there is no such thing as the Kingdom of heaven or eternal life. In which case, this life, as temporary as it is, make no sense.
Us Orthodox Christians simply refuse to believe that this earthly life is all that there is to our existence. God is the One True God, and we are members of His Family, of His Body!
Before we end, let me address Christ’s last statement in today’s Gospel: verse 12, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.”
In light of the Scriptures, we must conclude that Judas was never a true believer in Christ, John 6:64, states “64but there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.”
And that Judas was possessed by Satan as per John 13:27 “After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.” and though he regretted his betrayal of Jesus, the Lord said that it would have been better if he had never been born, in Matthew 26:24, we are told, “24The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born” and in Mark 14:21, “21The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! Good were it for that man if he had never been born.”
Therefore, we conclude that Judas ended up outside of salvation, in hell. There is no other meaning or justification. Let us not be like him!
Let us find the Joy of Christ Almighty, which He will give to each and every one of us, as members of His Family, in the Body of Christ. If and only if, we believe and follow Him, who created us.
Glory to God!
Thank you Fr David