On the night before Jesus gave himself up for us, Christ gathered his friends (his disciples) around the dinner table for a final meal in the Upper Room. Most of us, when pressed, can remember his words there. Christ said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from this, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” We can remember that.
In the church, we remember those words on a regular-basis during the sacrament of Holy Communion. We give thanks to God for those words and the mighty acts of Jesus Christ, and then we seek to live by them, taking, eating, remembering, and then living in the grace of Jesus Christ as often as possible. We call it communion and claim that through it, we become one with God, one with each other, and one in ministry to the entire world. We can remember that. That’s not a problem, but rarely do we remember the words that Christ utters in the very last moment before his betrayal in the garden. It is in that moment that Jesus prays to God, words seldom remembered. Christ says, “but now I am coming to you, and I speak these things so that they may have my joy!”
Jesus begins his journey to the cross; his last 12 hours or so on earth with a prayer intended to draw him nearer to God by focusing on others. First, Christ commits the rest of his time on earth as a journey toward God by crying out, “now I am coming to you.” And then intercedes on behalf of humanity. In this moment Jesus prays for others, that he might drawer nearer to God saying, “Today, O God, as I come toward you, would you protect them from the evil one, sanctify them in the truth, and just as you are in me and I am in you may they also be in us!”
I continue to be amazed and inspired by these words. To be focused on drawing nearer to God in a moment like this, a moment so intense and so tragic, is one thing; but then to pray that God would intercede at such a time as this to protect, sanctify, and inspire others is simply unbelievable.
Tim McGraw sings a song about ‘living like you were dying.’ In it he talks about skydiving, bull-riding, and Rocky mountain climbing. Those are all wonderful things, but when I think about what it might mean to live fully, I wonder if we shouldn’t be singing a song about and remembering the way Christ lived out his last in John 17.
I wonder what it might look like to approach everyday in the same manner that Jesus approached his last. What would you do? How would you start your day? How would that inform your living? How would that inform your prayer? How would that inform your relationship with God? How would you close your day?
What might happen if we began each of our days with a prayer that acknowledged and addressed God in the way that Christ did in John 17. What if we began our days by declaring to God, “God, I am coming to you today.” And then, what if we went on to pray for the sake of others. What if we prayed, “Use me O God, so that others might have my joy. Help me to protect others, sanctify others, and invite others to be present in you!”