I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
I was five when I first asked why every night couldn’t be like Christmas Eve. Right now I’m thinking of that long ago night and feeling the same rush of delight and anticipation. There were last minute surprise decorations to hang from the tree, and the unexpected knock on the door bringing happy friends bearing gifts. We turned off the TV that night, played games, drank eggnog, laughed, and sang carols as my mom played the piano. Later I put on new flannel pjs and slipped under cozy covers. I was so excited that I didn’t think I would ever fall asleep. I realized then that there isn’t another night of the year like Christmas Eve.
And yet I’m thinking how the years have shown that Christmas Eve is about something more wonderfully grand and mysterious than I could have imagined when I was five. Sure, there have been hard disappointments, deaths, and other losses since then, but they have only proven that Christmas Eve is about joy and satisfaction that never ends. It is just as the angels told the shepherds: “good news of great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10).
In today’s Scripture we get to listen in as Jesus prays for His disciples and for all others like you and me who believe in Him: “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word…” We hear Jesus’ desire that we share in God’s own love and intimacy and communicate that love and intimacy to the world. In words that baffle and overwhelm comprehension, Jesus ask for us: “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us…” In the same way that Jesus is one with the Father, He wants us to be one with Him and the Father.
At Christmas He stooped to take on our humanity that we might share in His life and glory. “God wanted to be the Son of Man and He wanted men to be the sons of God. He descended for us; let us ascend for him.” (St. Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John 11-27) God does not love you for what you might offer Him, but He loves you solely for your own sake. God needed nothing, but loved you into existence that you might forever be one with Him. At Christmas “God revealed that He loves us more than he loves himself.” (Thomas Torrance, The Christian Doctrine of God: One Being, Three Persons) The eternal God decided that He would rather die than live without you.
Jesus longs that the unfathomable, boundless love of God be revealed, “so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Stop! Read again, and ponder Jesus’ extravagant words: “and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Jesus came down to lift you up, to make you God’s very own son or daughter. He wants you this moment to know that God loves you as He loves Jesus.
The Father does not love Jesus with one kind or measure of love,and you and me with a different measure. He loves you in the same way He loves His Son. In His eyes you are cherished and wanted and as acceptable in His presence as His Son. This is what it means to be adopted. (John Kingsley Alley, The Spirit of Sonship: An Apostolic Grace)
God went for broke in the Incarnation, wanting to share with you His very life and love. If you let God have His way with you, you can forever share the life of the Three-Personed God. You can make this Christmas Eve unlike any other night in your life!
- What are your thoughts about knowing that God loves you as He loves Jesus?
- What are the practical implications of God being in you, and you being in God?
- How might knowing that your life is in God affect the way you live?
- Why not take a few moments to talk with God about the love He has for you.
EMBODIED PRAYER: FACE DOWN
In the Bible we frequently see intense prayer expressed as people fall on their faces before God. It is an outward sign of reverence to lie with face to the ground in God’s presence. By this we acknowledge His complete sovereignty and right to rule in our lives.
When God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham, Abraham “fell on his face” before the Lord (Genesis 17:3). When Joshua faced great enemies he “fell on his face” in God’s presence until the evening (Joshua 7:6). When a leper desperately seeking healing came to Jesus “he bowed with his face to the ground and begged him” (Luke 5:12). In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus “threw himself on the ground and prayed” (Matthew 26:39). Heaven’s angels fall on their faces before God’s throne and worship Him (Revelation 7:11). Praying face down before God is a Biblical expression of reverence to God and submission to His omnipotence and wisdom.
Today and every day of the fourth week of Advent pray the Lord’s Prayer with your face to the ground in God’s presence.