Ps. 1; Acts 1:12-26; 1 John 5:9-15; John 17:11b-19
Ask, [T]his is the confidence which we have in [God], that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him. (vv. 14, 15).
We approach Easter’s close in prayer; not wishful prayer; but assured prayer that does not disappoint because God is faithful and we are his children privy to his will in Christ.
Christian worship and prayer are communal, never individualistic. Even when alone your prayers are associated with brothers and sisters oriented at the Altar. The NKJV of Scripture correctly translates Jesus’ Sermon on The Mount, directing Christian prayer to our common room and shutting the door of “the secret place” (Mt. 6:6, 16).
We, who celebrate the Eucharist Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day understand “the secret place” as body of Christ. Following Service of the Word, church deacons declared: doors closed to the unbaptized, “de missa”, from which comes our “mass”.
Jesus, bears the Father’s name; instructing that our prayer is not of the world. Baptism with “water” and “blood” from Jesus on the cross (Jn. 19:30, 1 Jn. 5:8) for the Spirit is our entry into the church’s “secret place”, the world neither knows nor accepts.
Today’s Gospel has Jesus and Apostles in the upper room for a new Passover meal. Jesus’ prayer for his Apostles following the meal is called “High Priestly Prayer”, and so it is; the Supper anticipating his Passion, making it Eucharistic Prayer of consecration for his church’s Resurrection worship.
Jesus’ prayer commenced his passion in Gethsemane concluding on the cross with separation of blood from flesh. Thus, at his Supper Jesus instructed, “Take eat; take drink” making the Meal of a piece with his crucifixion; the two a singular event, each informing the other.
The cross provides the substance of the Supper’s meat and drink, bread-Flesh and wine-Blood, a grain and drink offering to the Father for peace with men, validated in the Resurrection, as food returned to the baptized priesthood. All Christian prayer is eucharistically oriented at the congregation’s Altar.
Hear Jesus’ prayer with the nascent Sacrament in background, “Holy Father, keep them [the Apostles] in thy Name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (Jn. 17:11b). Jesus’ prayer is eucharistic for the church’s worship of the Father, in “water” and “blood” from Jesus’ riven side at the cross (19:34).
By Baptism and Supper, the church is kept in the Father’s name, bestowed on his Son from eternity. Our salvation is dependent on believing Jesus is Son who bears God’s name, “YHWH” and “Lord”; in that belief, we possess Life in the age to come and now! (1 Jn. 5:9, 11, 12a).
To pray “in Jesus’ name” is not shibboleth formula (Judges 12:6) for access to the Father; rather it is to pray in the identity of Jesus by Baptism, assured that the Spirit informs us of the Father’s good will toward our petitions.
As prayers accord with his will in Jesus’ crucified identity, they are already answered, so with the Psalmist, “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple” (Ps. 27:4).
On the Feast of Ascension, we celebrated Jesus to the right-hand session of God’s power in his flesh reuniting heaven and earth. Jesus “parted” (Luke 24:51) his disciples sight as heaven’s Cloud Rider in the Name of divinity, “Lord and God” (cf. Jn 20:28); the church thus confesses, “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deut. 6:4).
Following Jesus’ ascension investiture (cp. Jn. 20:17), the church was to await the HS, “the Promise of the Father” (Jn. 14:16, 17a; Acts 1:4) for God’s Presence in a new way, word and sacrament for faith, forgiveness, and mission in power.
But first, the congregation would acknowledge the loss of Judas’ share in her apostolic Office for unity and Truth. The Apostles in “one accord” (Acts 1:14) recalled Jesus’ Supper, his saying, “apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5c); so, they waited.
Peter expounded God’s word about Judas Iscariot and the congregation prayed, “Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place” (Acts 1:24, 25).
At his Supper Jesus prayed the Father, his Apostles be kept in the unity of their Name. Pentecost is Easter’s Jubilee Day, forty-nine days plus one; at which Peter would proclaim God’s word for Jewish reception of Baptism for the HS, a begetting from above and entry into the church’s Holy Communion (Acts 2:22-47).
Consider the church’s post-Resurrection-Ascension joy; though “parted” from the world’s sight, at the promised of Jesus’ sacramental coming (Mt. 28:20) in faith for Life in the Father’s name, “Lord and God”; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.