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Sermon for May 29, 2022 – Seventh Sunday of Easter

Speaking Of Life 4027 | Living Water

Have you ever felt empty inside? Have you ever felt like life is one problem after another? Even when we feel like we have everything that we need, nothing can satisfy the void that only Jesus can fill. He is the true Living Water that even when we are in our deepest darkest moments in the wilderness, he refreshes our soul and keeps us whole in his loving embrace.

Program Transcript

Speaking Of Life 4027 | Living Water
Jeff Broadnax

A commonly held assumption for treating people suffering from heat exhaustion is to just give them more water. The problem is that the person who is suffering could drink a gallon of water and still not get better. What is really happening here is that the person’s body is lacking something vital. They have depleted the salts in their body to a point that no amount of water will fix. Once they get a sports drink or two in their system to replenish the electrolytes, they will tend to perk up. The solution is to get the right substance in them.

In life, there exists commonly held beliefs about vital things we humans feel are missing to provide true fulfillment in our lives. We know that something just isn’t right and so we attempt to fill our longings with a better job, more money, a new romantic relationship, or acquiring fame. But history has shown us again and again how people who often appear to have it all have found out that they were still missing something.

The answer to the human dilemma is found in an interesting place in the Bible. In the book of Revelation, John gives us a picture of heavenly hope. He quotes Jesus saying:

“Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
Revelation 22:17

This passage, reminds me of the story where Jesus encountered the woman at the well. Jesus tells the woman that whoever drinks the water that he is offering will never thirst again. Not only that, but once ingested, this living water will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Jesus describes Himself as the living water. He is the key ingredient; He alone gives life. When we acknowledge Christ as our life, our thirst is satisfied. We no longer need to ask the question about what will satisfy us and what will make us whole. We are satisfied and made whole in Him.

In our passage from Revelation, Jesus reassures us that he possesses all that we need to experience a full and satisfying life. In Him, we have been raised to new life. A life without end. Our thirst is quenched.

Having things in our life like money, relationships, respect, and admiration can all enrich our lives. But those things, in and of themselves will never fill the empty space that only Christ can occupy.  

Does your life feel exhausting? Do you feel like your life is one big attempt at filling something deep inside you that is missing? Just know that Jesus is the answer. He offers you his living water. He offers you nothing less than Himself. He is our life. It’s time to satisfy that thirst once and for all with the only thing designed to make you whole – Jesus Christ.

I’m Jeff Broadnax, Speaking of Life.

Psalm 97:1-12 • Acts 16:26-34 • Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21 • John 17:20-26

This week’s theme is our response to seeing the salvation, goodness and love of God in our lives. In the call to worship Psalm, the psalmist tells us that because the Lord reigns, the whole earth should be glad. In Acts 16 we see the jailer who was overseeing Paul and Silas rejoicing because of his new faith in Christ. In John, we see Jesus praying that an unbelieving world will come to know that he loves them. And in Revelation it is promised that all who come to God will be filled with the fullness of life.

The Impassioned Prayer of Christ

John 17:20-26

Have you ever overheard someone praying for you? Whether it was a parent, a friend, or someone from church, it’s humbling to know what that person wants God to do in your life and what desires they are hoping God fulfills for you.

This prayer that Jesus is praying is part of an on-going prayer that starts at the beginning of chapter 17. Let’s keep in mind that Jesus is not giving a sermon here or even a to-do list for the church, as there was no church at that time. This is a prayer. And it is a prayer that allows the disciples to peek behind the curtain into the relationship between Father and Son. This allows the disciples to see the kind of things that the Trinity feels for the disciples and what their intentions are for them. And for us as well.

Let’s take a closer look at the impassioned prayer that Jesus prays for his disciples. A prayer that he prays within earshot of them. In the first few verses he prays for unity. After that, Jesus prays that they would see his glory, and lastly, he will pray about their intimacy with the Trinity.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you 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. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23)

In this first section, we see Jesus not only praying for his disciples, but for us and for all those who will come after us. His prayer is for unity in the body of Christ. That just as he and the Father are one, we would be one with each other.

Jesus prays that we would be unified in a such a way that at last the whole world will know that Jesus is Lord. And that would be accomplished by the way that we are in union with each other. Is the fact that there are literally thousands of denominations in the Christian church an indictment against us for our lack of unity? Perhaps, if we focus on the differences. But what if we focus on our agreement in Jesus? Isn’t this what Jesus is praying for – our unity as brothers and sisters in Christ? Unfortunately, we do focus on so much other than our unity.

The body of Christ is often guilty of insisting that if you are a Christian, you will stop doing certain things. That is true. We stop hating other people, we stop worshipping idols. But some take this idea and turn it into legalistic specifics, that by your outward conformity to their standards you will either be qualified or disqualified from their fellowship. But that is not unity, that is uniformity. It’s vital to understand we don’t all have the same interpretations, or maturity in the Lord, or have the same giftings or callings.

Ultimately, uniformity trespasses over the relationship that each of us uniquely has with our Savior and Lord. It holds us to a standard that our Lord has not asked of us.

The church has never been, nor will ever be in complete agreement on this side of heaven. What Christ desires and prays for us is that we would be one in love. We are to be perfected in love, and that through this love a lost world will see Christ.

 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17:24)

In this verse we see Jesus praying that the disciples would be where he is and that they would see his glory. The same glory that Jesus had with the Father because of the love that the Father had for him. So, what exactly is glory? It seems to be one of those mysterious religious words that gets thrown around in sermons and worship songs.

In this passage, the Greek word for glory is doxa. This has to do with ascribing worth and value to something. It is giving an accurate assessment of an object or person. In this instance, it is to recognize, value and to have an accurate assessment of God’s character and nature. It is being in agreement with who, and how God is.

Have you ever been told something negative about someone you haven’t met? Did it color your opinion of them even before you met them? This happens often. Then when you finally meet that person, you found out that many, or most of those negative things you were told about them were not true.

Of utmost importance to God is that we have an accurate representation of him. That as we see him for all that he is, we couldn’t help but honor, esteem and respect him and his ways. And this is the God we see in Jesus. And in having seen love itself in personal form how can you not love in return? This is giving glory to God.

When we see Jesus, we have seen the Father. In fact, that is where our view of God needs to start – not from the Old Testament, but from the life of Christ. For no one has seen the Father except the Son. (John 6:46)

Jesus desires his disciples – which includes you and me – to see his glory and to be in agreement with God’s character and nature as seen in Christ Jesus. Also, to acknowledge his sovereign right to his creation. To entrust ourselves to him and to the life he desires to live in and through us.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:25-26)

In the last part of this impassioned prayer of Christ, Jesus affirms that he has made known the Father to his disciples. His desire was that they would share in the love relationship that exists within the Trinity.

Before the very foundation of the world, before humanity was even a gleam in the Father’s eyes, this relationship of unity, glory, and intimacy existed. This greatest of all loves is the foundation upon which creation itself exists and is held together. God is not looking for automatons to blindly follow orders though coercion and ultimatums; he woos our hearts to participate in what has always been on his heart since the beginning of time. His desire is to draw us into that intimacy.

Through the Holy Spirit, we experience an intimacy that transcends all of our human relationships. It is an inseparable relationship where the Spirit of Christ has taken up residence and promises to never leave us. There will never be a moment when the Spirit of God is not present in your life. God has made a way for us that we would never be without him.

When we are captivated by our intimate union with God, it becomes easier to love our brothers and sisters in the faith. And as we do, the lesser things of this life begin to fall away. It is here where we truly begin to glorify God in our practice of unity. And in turn, an unbelieving world can start believing in a God worthy of praise and worship.

In Hebrews 7:25 we are reminded that, “He always lives to intercede for them.” Could it be that Christ is still praying his impassioned prayer over us? That he is still praying that the church may be one, that we would see and share in his glory and to participate in the intimacy with Father, Son, and Spirit? Perhaps we should join him in praying for these things as well.

Resurrection Fish Fry w/ Jeff McSwain W5

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May 29 – 7th Sunday of Easter
John 17:20-26 “We Are One”

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Program Transcript

Resurrection Fish Fry w/ Jeff McSwain W5

Anthony: We’re in the home stretch, man! One last pericope is John 17:20 – 26. It is the Revised Common Lectionary passage for the 7th Sunday of Easter, May the 29th. And it reads:

“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 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. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 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. 24 Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” [NRSV]

Whew! That’s some theological density there. So let me give you just a chance to rift. What is the Lord revealing in and through this passage?

Jeff: First of all, what does he say there? The world does not love me. The world does not know me. The world does not. We recognize that John’s use of the word “world” is a world in conflict. He’s not talking about the new heavens and the new earth or the original heavens and earth.

He’s talking about the reversal of, or the corrupted nature of the way things are, the world. And there’s beauty in that to me in the sense that, God so loved the world. In other words, even if the world can’t love God, the flesh can’t give birth to [ Spirit], the worldliness, the sordidness of our flesh can’t love God, God loves us in the flesh. He doesn’t just love our true selves. He loves us.

He loves us warts and all, and he’s embraced us at our very worst. And that’s why I love that leper story in Mark 1, (we won’t go into it) Jesus embraces the leper at his very worst. He doesn’t heal him first and then say, come give me a hug! He embraces him, touches him before he heals him.

God so loved the world. That is the same love that the Father has for the Son that he has for each one of us who are adopted in the Son (ergo, every human being as Ephesians 1 says, anybody who’s adopted in the Son—and that would be all, according to my interpretation of Ephesians 1:1-10—has been a child of God from all eternity.)

And I think that there’s a matter of revelation now to be had—it doesn’t look like that—but these 12 apostles are the ones in the room and at this time, they represent not only Israel in the 12 tribes in a representative fashion, but they really represent humanity.

And the church also should be a provisional representation of all human beings sanctified in Christ. They are the ones that want to follow the head of the whole human race, and therefore have been called the body of Christ in scripture. But that doesn’t mean that the body of Christ is any different ontologically than every other human being outside the so-called walls of the church. We start with the fact that we are all included in Jesus Christ, by creation and redemption, and he is the head of the human race.

And our desire then would be to live in tangible expression of that. And that to live as the body of Christ, as Israel was called to do, as we are called to do. Not in a supersessionist way as the church, but in a way that the church and Israel are meant to bear witness, bear witness in a way that bears relative witness to the truth for all humanity.

And so, I just think that when it comes to this idea of knowing nobody knows the Son, except the Father, nobody knows the Father, except the Son that we have to recognize that we’re all inside of that by virtue of the vicarious humanity of Christ. And that in any place in our life where we give testimony to the fact that I really began to know God or that’s when I knew God, we can recognize that not only has God known us, but we’ve known God as well, if we take the vicarious humanity of Christ seriously.

And the reason that those “born from above moments” are so powerful and so visceral is because they’re rooted in reality, not because they’re creating the reality. And that’s why I’ve always been an evangelist at heart, I love to preach the gospel because I love to see those moments of discovery and recognition that are truly transformative.

And that will really allow us to be able to rest in the fact that yes, we know God first and foremost, because Jesus Christ knows God. And he shares that with us in a way that we can play second fiddle. And that second fiddle is so much better than trying to get our own primary fiddle going.

Anthony: Man. I so desperately want my agency sometimes, but you’re right. The second fiddle, it’s the chair to be in, brother.

You and Susan are dear friends. I love you. I’m so grateful for our friendship. And I’m grateful for the ways that you have been a faithful expression of who Christ is in this city that we get to share now in Durham, North Carolina. So, thank you for being a part of the podcast.

Jeff: I’m so happy you’re here.

Anthony: Yeah, man. We’re just getting started, but you are a blessing. You’re a beloved child of God. And thank you for being a part of this podcast. As is our tradition, we love to close with the word of prayer. Would you be willing to pray over our listening audience?

Jeff: Absolutely.

Lord, I thank you for your love for us. Let it penetrate through our hearts of stone that we might have a created and redeemed heart that you’ve given us towards you. And that therefore, we might not define ourselves by what we think about ourselves and what the world thinks about us, but that we could rest in the love that you have, and that rest would therefore be manifest as peace to others around us and to the whole world.

And right now, during this time, we ask for a secession of conflict in Ukraine. And we ask for your blessing over all who are involved and who are suffering the deep collateral damage and the death and destruction that this conflict is brought on.

Not that this is the only conflict or that this should get headlines above others. There’s so many around the world that we know and so many that we don’t know that are happening within our own homes. These conflicts that are not of your peace, but Lord, please pour out your peace and abundance that we might be able to participate with you to be part more of the solution instead of part of the problem, that we might live in this Spirit and not in the flesh.

And that we might anticipate that great day, that day where there’ll be full clarity, where the flesh will go one way and the Spirit in Christ, Lord, we’ll be able to go with you in another, that we might live in the truth of who we are then, that we might live in the truth of we are now. And that what is true then, and what has always been true will be manifest here in this world, in this moment. I thank you for Anthony, for this podcast, and we give this all to you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Small Group Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions:

  • How does it feel when you hear someone praying for you? How has that affected your relationship with them?
  • What are some ways that the church can practice unity? What would a unified church look like in your own congregation?
  • What does glory mean to you? And how do we give glory to God?
  • How do we recognize our intimacy with God?
  • Hebrews 7:25 says that Christ ever lives to make intercession for us. What do you think he is praying over us?

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