I would like to point out the significance of this whole section, 13:1-17:26, as what both of our authors have noted as a farewell discourse. I like how both Moloney and Talbert point out, that these farewell speeches close with a prayer. I think what I find so fascinating is that with the readings we did in Dr. Martin’s work on the rhetorical topics and how they are employed in the Gospels and even here in 13:1-17:26, we see the author intentionally using literary conventions from his or her era to tell the story of Jesus. I think this is significant for scholars as well as average Joe Christian as well in that it demonstrates the intentionality, craft, education, style, narrative art if you will of the author. We are reading a carefully crafted document.
In our reading for this week, we encounter a praying Jesus. I have always thought of the Synoptics more though when thinking about Jesus and prayer, but Talbert notes that in John, Jesus is a person of prayer…14:16; 1 Jn 2:1-2; 16:26; 6:11; 11:41-42; 12:27-28 (Talbert, 231). I guess in my haste as a poor reader, I hadn’t noticed all these Johannine references to prayer.
I thought the explanation in Talbert about the different meanings of the word glory was helpful as well. Talbert points out, “the notion of glory is …complex…Glory is what makes one impressive to others. It may mean: reputation…honor (i.e., status/prestige)…riches…splendor…power…the divine presence or radiance…To give glory to God is not to add something not present in God to God but to acknowledge something already present in God…To glorify someone other than God is to acknowledge that person’s honor or power. If God glorifies someone, he grants that person to participate in his honor or power or divine radiance” (Talbert, 232). Talbert’s explanation of the complexities of glory helps to see how in John’s gospel how the word glory is used in most cases, i.e., status, honor, prestige, power.
I also feel that Jesus prayer in 17:20-23 for “those who believe in me through their word” is important because “The unity of believers is aimed at leading the world to faith in Jesus” (Talbert, 236). Talbert again helps frame this conversation by pointing out the spiritual root of the problem of division; cf. Gen; Eph 6:12). Because of our readings this week again about the Johannine secessionists and how hermenutically we interpret meaning by context we see or at least can make room for the notion that as the author writes this prayer for the unity of believers, he is struck by the division in his own day (Talbert, 237). This prayer is significant, in that it includes us today as inheritors of the first disciples’ message of the cross and the risen and triumphant Jesus. What this prayer says to us today as the church is shame on us for allowing division and our selfishness keep the world blind. Talbert points out, that “Jesus prays for this unity…so that the world may believe that you have sent me. We too need to heed this prayer of Jesus for unity and begin to be the “alternative society, a counterculture, in which the message of …Jesus” must become real to us (Talbert, 236). How can the world come to know Jesus, if we aren’t living like we know him either?
Moloney, Francis J., The Gospel of John. . Collegeville, MN: TheLiturgical Press, 1988.
Talbert, Charles H., Reading John: A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Fourth Gospel and the Johannine Epistles. Macon, GA: Smyth and Helwys, 2005.