John 17:1-26 was termed “The High-Priestly Prayer” by the 16th century Lutheran theologian David Chytraeus although equivalent expressions were used by some of the Church fathers. The name is appropriate for it is Christ’s prayer consecrating His body and blood for the sacrifice in which they are about to be offered, and His benediction over the Church that He is to bring forth in His glorification. In the first part of His prayer, Jesus prays for himself and in the last part He prays for all believers. What we hear today is from the middle part where He prays for His disciples. This prayer takes place in the upper room during the Last Supper. Immediately after this prayer Jesus and the eleven (Judas having left to betray Him) go to Gethsemane for the Agony in the Garden.
Today we hear of one of the first acts that the Apostles undertake under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This event takes place in the upper room, where the apostles and Jesus’ disciples have taken refuge after the Ascension. Jesus had commanded them (Acts 1:4-5) “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
On the fifth Sunday of Easter we heard Jesus’ divine commandment: We are to believe in the name of God’s son, Jesus Christ and we are to love one another. Last week we heard John begin to expand on the second part of this commandment – brotherly love. He taught that God is love and it was He who loved us to begin with. Today we hear that brotherly love is the response which God’s love calls for.