Lost in John 17
by Harry Banks, April 20, 2015: A while ago I felt drawn to try to allow the prayer of Christ in John 17 to come near my soul.
When I read the phrasing and the word selection, it all seemed so foreign and mysterious to the language of my inner conversation. So for the past several months I have gone back and back and back again asking, and trusting that someday a glimmer of recognition will occur at the heart level.
I feel like some of my new students. I give them a reading aid that asks questions about their text book. They can look up the answers in the text book. Some of them carefully write down the answers in the book, word for word. But when I ask them to explain what they have written, they have no idea of the context, the practical meaning of the words. That’s how I feel with John 17. I see the words; I know their dictionary definition; I have even explored the Greek underpinnings of the translated words I read. But heart meaning still seems to elude me.
Glorify… Jesus says to his Father, Glorify me as I have glorified you . . . the disciples even glorify Christ, according to the prayer. I have no experience to allow me to imagine what that glorify means at an experiential level. I missed the mount of transfiguration. Didn’t hike Sinai with Moses to pick up the commands. Haven’t seen or felt the smoke of Isaiah’s temple. Bottom line: although I know a lot of words and descriptions of glory, it eludes my gestalt understanding.
In the end I figure I don’t do glory. I have no experiential comprehension of what it could be like to be in a moment or relationship of glory.
Why Go Back …
So I’ve been wondering, why go back and back and beg for understanding? …
I find some hope in the words of reassurance… Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness…
Of course, I’m not so sure I really am wanting the righteousness… The Dark Night of the Soul talks about beginners that in their fervor to understand spiritual things become secretly vain, and impatient with others. I think some of my friends refer to this as “self-righteous.” Sometimes that undercurrent of vanity seems too close to the surface for me; I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever be more than a beginner.
Nevertheless, there seems to be a least a beginning of hunger… For that I am grateful; for much of my life I’m not sure I was really that hungry.
One of the questions Jesus kept asking his disciples, Who do men say that I am? And who do you say that I am? In the prayer he says that “those that were given to him” got it. They understood he came from the Father. They understood who he was and is.
When I come back to this prayer and listen to this conversation about glory, eternal life, giving, manifesting, taking care . . . all within 24 hours of submitting to the most excruciating soul darkness of the total separation of good and evil, voluntarily embodying evil and its total banishment from his righteous Father I cannot comprehend I’m left in wonder.
I find myself wondering how well I’m able to answer at a heart level, who is Jesus? What level of prominence does he have in my life?
In this prayer his whole focus seems to start with wanting to glorify his Father. Ahh, maybe that’s it. I keep being drawn back to trying to understand the manifesting and glorifying and name stuff. …
There is some admonition that says, “Do all for the glory of God. …”
Like I said, I pretty much flunk the glory test. But I keep thinking it would be nice to hang out here long enough that maybe I can be a more representative son of the King. But it probably wouldn’t hurt if I got a better idea of who this Jesus really is. Yeah, I know all the quick answers to that question, but do I know who he is so well that my being embodies his presence? Hmmm… Maybe I’ll need to hang out here a lot longer. …
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 1:24-25 KJV).