Summary: Christ prays for us, even though we fail to pray for ourselves.

John 17 & Matthew 26

Maundy Thursday, April 9, 2020

J. J.

May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight,

O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

“Christ prays for us”

The focus of our worship on Maundy Thursday is usually on Our Lord’s institution of the His Supper. This is for us a great and eternal – that is, ongoing – blessing. But we are not able to gather in worship and celebrate that feast this evening. Yet we can join Jesus is the Upper Room.

In that room, at the conclusion of the meal, Jesus offered a prayer, which we now call the High Priestly prayer. We heard part of that prayer in our readings. He prayed that His Father would keep his disciples from the evil one. He did not ask that they be taken out of the world, but that they be made holy – sanctified, and be kept safe. He asked that they would be united, be one, even as He and His Father are one. Think of how close is the eternal unity of the Father and the Son. It is that same unity that Christ prayed for His disciples. And for us.

Not everything in Scripture is directed to us. God has not commanded us to build can ark, nor to march around Jericho seven times. But we can have confidence that Jesus’s prayer offered that night, in the Upper Room, was not only for His disciples then, but is for us now, too – for you and for me. For Jesus Himself says, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” Jesus’ prayer that evening was for you. He said so. It is true.

When they were finished, Jesus and His disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane. It is a garden of olive trees next to the temple. In it there is an olive press for making olive oil. “Gethsemane” means pressing. You know well that in this hour, Jesus went and prayed to His Father, “Take this cup from Me, yet not My will, but Yours be done.” He also encouraged His disciples to pray, “lest you fall into temptation.”

It is these same requests that we pray in the prayer He gave us. “Thy Will be done, … Deliver us from evil, lead us not into temptation.” In the Lord’s Prayer we are continuing the prayers which Jesus made that night, in the Upper Room and in the Garden. But we know, don’t we, that like the sleepy disciples we fail to pray keep watch; both in our hour of pressing, and in our times of feasting. Yet we need not despair. For our prayers do not depend on us. Not only did Christ pray for us in the Upper Room, He Himself prays for us continually. St Paul writes, “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” (Romans 8).

Christ offered Himself as the perfect and eternal sacrifice. By His death and passion, we have been washed and sanctified. By His resurrection He has restored us to life in His Name. He has not taken us out of this world. We still battle evil. We still face the time of pressing. But we know that we are His. We know that He has and will deliver us from the evil one. And we know that He prays for us, even though we fail to pray for ourselves.

Deliver us, O Lord, from every evil and grant us peace in our days, in your mercy keep us free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await in hope the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

For Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ shall come again. Amen.

S. D. G.

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