Tag Archives: John 17:6-19

The Fierce Love of a Mama God (May 13, 2018)

John 17:6-19

“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

You know what’s the most ferocious animal in all of creation? It’s any mama animal whose babies are being threatened. I’d rather face male black bear than a mama possum if I got too close to the babies.

There’s a fierce natural sense of protection by mamas. They will, without batting an eye, attack anything no matter how big, if they think their babies are in danger. This is generally true for human mamas too. Think about that image on this Mothers’ Day.

Biblical gender language aside, since God really isn’t male (we all know this, right?) I think that’s the kind of maternal protection that Jesus is praying about in this text. He’s praying that God would protect Jesus’s disciples with that kind of ferocity. Like a mama protecting her babies.

Mamas don’t fiercely protect their babies so the babies can sleep in their cave the rest of their lives. Mamas protect their babies so they can learn to be OK in this world, to take care of themselves, become big bears, raccoons, sparrows, humans, whatever. It’s not just protection for its own sake, but protection with a purpose. It’s protection so that the baby can grow up and be what it is intended to be.

That’s what Jesus is praying for in this text from John. He prays that the Father (the Mama?) would protect disciples in God’s own name so they may be one in the same way Jesus and this Mama God are one. Then he prays they would be protected from evil as they go into the world.

Whenever there’s something in the Bible about “names,” it’s more than what you tell people to call you. “Name” has to do with character, the essence of the person. So protecting us disciples in God’s name has to do with protecting us in the very nature of God—Jesus’s prayer is that we be protected in this Mama God’s fierce love, mercy, grace, and compassion. That love in all its ferocity would surround us and hold us and keep us in unity with God, but also so we can venture out into this difficult world knowing we are protected in love the whole time.

This Mama God’s protection is not so we can sleep in our caves the rest of our lives. It’s not so we can be safe inside our church buildings. It’s not so we can feel safe because we know the right things or believe the right things or understand the right things. Being protected in God’s love is so we can love with this fierce Mama-love as we were created to do—as full human beings in the image of God. Lives full of love and joy and compassion and grace.

And now, protected in this love that keeps Jesus and this Mama God together in unity, we are sent into the world. Because that’s what the Mama God’s love for Jesus has done. Sent him into the world, protected in love, in order to be free to love. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? That being protected in love, Jesus was free to love us with that same fierceness.

And good thing, too. Because protected in the ferocity of the Mama God’s love, Jesus was free to love us with that same intensity. He would take on anyone, anything, if he thought it would endanger our unity with him. Even if it cost him his life, he was protected in love so he could show that love.

And since we are now united with him in that same ferocious love, we have that same protection in order to love the world the same way. We, too, are sent into the world, protected in love, and set free to love just like Jesus. We don’t have to worry about who deserves it, or who will love us back, or who is like us or unlike us, who’s right or who’s wrong. We are always protected, like a Mama’s babies, so that we can love just as ferociously.

It’s a Mothers’ Day image that is rather compelling for me. A Mama God protecting her babies with love. Jesus, united in this Mama God with love, is sent to include us in that love. So now we too, as Jesus prayed, are brought in, united in this fierce Mama God’s protection of love. And we too, knowing we are fiercely protected in love by this Mama God and Jesus, are free to venture into the world to show that same love.

Nothing can prevent this Mama God from loving us. Nothing better try, because there’s nothing in all creation as fierce as a mama whose babies are being threatened. That’s how fiercely we are loved. That’s how fiercely we are protected. And that’s how fiercely we are set free to love the rest of the world.

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Posted by on May 13, 2018 in Sermon


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Why Would Jesus Pray for Us? 5/20/2012, Easter 7 B

7th Sunday of Easter

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; Psalm 1; John 17:6-19

Pull out the small thin sheet of paper. Next to each number, write the name of a person you know you’ll see at some point this week. Hang on to this for now.

This text in John describes John’s version of the events before Jesus was betrayed and crucified. Jesus knows he won’t be with his disciples much longer, and spends five chapters in this gospel doing last minute preparations to help them. The entire 17th chapter is one long prayer that we’re listening in on.

In the portion of this prayer included today, Jesus is praying for the church—for his disciples then, and his disciples to come—he’s praying for us!

Look at this prayer. One of the main emphases is that Jesus is praying for our protection. Why? A couple of reasons: 1) we are the ones who continue his ministry, and 2) we don’t always know what we’re doing.

  1. As his disciples, we are the ones who continue his ministry in his name. We are the ones who carry on in the world, and it is neither comfortable nor safe.

Jesus doesn’t pray for us to live in monasteries, or sanctuaries, or retreat centers. We are sent right into and among a sinful society which is deeply misinformed about God. Our culture makes bad assumptions based on bad theology and misinformation.

We aren’t separated from the world, but driven into it. The church was not created to be a safe place to escape from the sin and hardships of a cruel world.

  1. Which is why I personally never refer to this room as a “sanctuary.” It’s not a safe place. It’s a worship area.
  2. We bring all the brokenness, sin, cruelty, and evil of the world right here into the church with us—because we’re just as broken and shattered in here as we are everywhere else. The church is not for “good people,” but broken people who need a new life.

So Jesus prays for protection in the midst of our living constantly in the brokenness of the world—praying that we would seek God’s presence and forgiveness continually. But he also prays for our protection because

  1. We don’t always know what we’re doing. Just like the original disciples, we don’t fully understand our role. We feel inadequate, frightened, incompetent to go into the world on Jesus’ behalf.

Do you know why?  Because we are!

If the continuation of his ministry of revealing love, mercy, generosity and forgiveness depends on us, Jesus better be praying for us.

  1. If there’s one thing the church has proven over the centuries, it’s that whenever we attempt to do something for God, we screw it up. There’s that constant reminder that we’re part of the brokenness of the world.
  2. But it’s not our righteousness or our brokenness that we’re charged with revealing in the world. It’s Christ’s. We go as witnesses to his resurrection, to new life in him, to forgiveness in his name, to the relationship to God that he has provided.

So he prays for our protection—as hurting/broken people sent into a hurting/broken world; and as hurting/broken people who don’t know what we’re doing.

But we go anyway. We’re already there. We go into the world, we live in the world. We’re already part of the world.

But Christ is already there before us: praying for us, forgiving us, protecting us. He gives us his new life.

~~As we belong to him, we now live in the world in his name.

~~With our identity in him, we go out in his name.

~~Inadequate and sinful, we reveal forgiveness in him name.

We go to those who—just like us—are broken, hurting, and undeserving of God’s love. We can identify with those who believe they are furthest from God or who don’t even care about God because we’re just like them.

And yet we reveal something else too. As we go into the world, we reveal who Christ has made us to be: people made new in the grace, the love, the forgiveness, and the new life of Jesus Christ.

Whether we feel prepared or not, confident or not, we are equipped and sent into the world. And we go. We can’t proclaim our own righteousness, but we do reveal the reality of new life in Christ, because we go as forgiven people, as loved people, and new people.

Who will you encounter this week? Look at your list. As you meet them during the week, know that Jesus is already there with them ahead of you. Below each name, jot down one particular way you can show his love, mercy, forgiveness, generosity specifically to each of them. As you do that, know he is praying for you in your encounter with them. He’s praying for you as you carry on his ministry even though you may feel you don’t know what you’re doing. He’s praying for you, because it’s his new life, made real in you, that you bring to them. He’s praying for you so that they would experience his love which is, even now, being made real in you.

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Posted by on May 20, 2012 in Sermon


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