As the season of Easter comes to a close, the themes of love and glory that John’s Gospel has stressed are brought together in the prayer which Jesus as High Priest offers as intercession on behalf of all believers. Jesus portrays love as the means by which he and the Father share their glory with the committed students. That relationship, defined by mutual glorification, also appears with a sense of finality in Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21. In the Lectionary, Psalm 97 echoes the regal language used in the visionary passage from the Revelation. Acts 16:16-34 portrays the power that characterizes the apostolic church on the basis of Jesus’ authorization.
The First Reading
Paul and Silas’ Witness in Philippi
The power of God over unclean spirits is displayed in Philippi through Paul’s continued witness to the Anointed Jesus, through the deliverance of a spirit-possessed slave girl, and through the miraculous deliverance of Paul and Silas from prison.
As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a young slave girl possessed by a spirit of divination, who brought much profit to her masters by fortune-telling. Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, “These men are servants of the highest God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation!” She did this for many days. But Paul, being deeply troubled, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus the Anointed, come out from her!” And it left her that very moment. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit had left, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the town square before the city authorities. They stood them up before the magistrates and said, “These men are causing trouble in our city. They are Judeans, and they are advocating customs that are not lawful for us to accept or practice as Romans!” The crowd then gathered in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and were giving orders to beat them with rods. After hitting them, they threw them into prison and commanded the jailer to keep them secure. The one who received the order took them into the inner prison and secured their feet in shackles. At about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing to God, and the prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a great earthquake that caused the foundations of the prison to shake, and instantly all the doors opened and all the chains were thrown off. After the jailer woke up and saw the open doors of the prison, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, concluding that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice saying, “Do not harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling he fell down before Paul and Silas. He then brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and your household will be saved.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his household. And so he took them that very moment though it was night and washed their wounds, and immediately he and those with him were immersed for cleansing from sin. Then he brought them into his house and served food, and he rejoiced together with the entire household, having come to believe in God.
God’s Justice Is Evidenced on Earth
God’s justice and power are reflected in a perfected world in which idolatry comes to an end, as all nations recognize the Lord’s singular might and glory.
- 1. The Lord is king;
let the earth rejoice!
Let the many coastlands be glad!
- 2. Clouds and storm clouds surround God;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s Throne.
- 3. Fire goes before God,
scorching God’s adversaries all around.
- 4. God’s lightening illumined the world;
the earth saw and quaked.
- 5. Before the Lord, mountains melted like wax,
before the Master of all the earth.
- 6. The heavens proclaimed God’s righteousness,
and all the nations witnessed God’s glory.
- 7. All who worship idols will be humiliated,
those who boast of the gods.
Bow down to him, all you gods!
- 8. Zion heard and was glad;
the daughters of Judah rejoiced,
because of your just acts, Lord!
- 9. For you, Lord, are Most High over all the earth,
highly exalted over all the gods.
- 10. Hate evil, all who love the Lord!
He protects the lives of his pious ones.
God rescues them from evil-doers.
- 11. Light is sown for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
- 12. Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous,
giving thanks to God’s holy name.
The Second Reading
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
The Promise of Jesus’ Arrival
At its close, the book of Revelation states its purpose to be prophecy (compare Revelation 1:3). The author, John, appears personally, reinforcing the difference between angelic agents, who are not to be accorded worship (Revelation 22:8-9; see Revelation 19:10), and God, who is worthy of all worship. Unlike the scroll that was eaten (Revelation 10:4-11), this one is to remain unsealed and ready to be read, because its fulfillment is near. Jesus repeats his promise of the water of life (see Revelation 21:6), with the condition of necessary righteous action and also the warning that neither adding to nor subtracting from the words of the Revelation will be tolerated. These words of grace are humanity’s lifeline. They cannot be altered.
“Look—I, Jesus, am quickly arriving, and my reward is with me to give to each according to their deed! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the final purpose.”
Those—martyrs—who wash their robes are favored, because they shall have the right to the tree of life and to enter by the gates into the city.
“I, Jesus, have sent my messenger to witness these things to you concerning the congregations.
I am the root and race of David, the shining morning star.”
And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And whoever hears should say, “Come!” And whoever thirsts, who wishes to receive the water of life freely, should come.
The one who witnesses these things says, “Yes, I am quickly arriving.”
Amen—Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.
“So that They Might Be One Just as We Are One”
The theme that Jesus and the Father are one—and that their intent is that Jesus’ followers might also be one with one another and with God—is a particular emphasis of John’s Gospel. By having Jesus speak this prayer prior to the Crucifixion, John portrays Jesus’ actions prior to his death as entirely consistent with the reality of his presence after the Resurrection.
“I do not appeal for the committed students only, but also for those who believe because of the students’ word about me, so that all might be one: just as you are in me, Father, and I in you, that they also might be in us, so the world will believe that you commissioned me. The majestic glory that you have given me, I have also given to them, so that they might be one just as we are one: I in them and you in me, so that they might be as one, a completed whole. Thus the world will know that you commissioned me and that you also love them just as you love me.”