Psalm 68:1-35 • John 17:1-11 • Acts 1:6-14 • 1 Peter 4:12-5:11
Psalm 68 ‘belongs to the lowly, who in the midst of the powers of this world remember and hope for the victory of God.’
J. Clinton McCann, Evangelical Professor of Biblical Interpretation Eden Seminary
Psalm 68 is thought to be the oldest Psalm. It is filled with statements and references to God that are found to be impossible to fully interpret. This means that some of the things are from such an ancient time that many of the words and meanings are foreign in our times.
It does seem, however, to be a song of victory as well as a song of hope in the longed for victory. Basically, it is a oppressed and/or hurting people who hope God is able, and willing, to rescue and save them from their distress and pain.
The beauty of not being given the exact meanings and of knowing we do not have a perfect translation is that we are then able to interpret, and apply, this hope to our own lives and our own times of distress, pain, and living and not knowing.
John 17 brings the final discourse of Jesus to his disciples to a close. As you turn the page to chapter 18, you will most likely see a heading that either says ‘Jesus Arrested’, or ‘Judas’ Betrayal’. Chapter 17, however, is not a lecture type teaching as we have seen since this began in chapter 14, this is actually a prayer. This passage is commonly referred to as the The High Priestly Prayer. The prayer begins with Jesus praying for himself, then for his disciples, and then for all that will BE followers in the future. So, it is a prayer for us!
Since we did not cover the middle section of the final discourse, you may want to take the time to go back and read chapters 15 and 16.
This eleven verses of the prayer, a prayer that was intentionally overhearable by the disciples, begins with the phrase, ‘The hour has come…’. This may sound somewhat familiar to you as in the story of the wedding without enough wine, we see Jesus tell his mother ‘My hour has not yet come.’ It is time, time for Jesus to give the followers an insight into his purpose and mission, a time to let them know and understand his passion for them and their future, and a time for them to begin to grasp their connectedness to Jesus, God, Each Other, and for All Others.
It is a heavy time for Jesus, God, and his Disciples.
It is a time when we understand that Jesus prays for us.
As we return to chapter one of the book of Acts, it is essential to remember that Acts is often referred to as the sequel to the book of Luke. As Luke authored both books, we see the continuation from the gospel of Luke to the New Testament Church Luke.
This opening chapter takes us back to the time and events that occurred after the resurrection of Jesus up to the ascension of Jesus. It is the final moments of the life of the Son, God in the flesh, and the beginning moments of the church.
What is especially notable in these nine verses is that the church is a ‘waiting’ church. In the final moments that Jesus has with the followers prior to ascending to heaven they are curious about what is next. One questions if this is when Jesus will restore the Kingdom to Israel – Jesus answer it to wait.
As the followers look to the sky after Jesus is not longer visible, two stranger are standing next to them. ‘Why are you looking up?’ they question. We then see the followers return to Jerusalem to wait, just as Jesus had instructed. As they arrive back in Jerusalem we see this group of men and women do what they know go do – they focused on truth and prayed. The necessary foundation for the church.
1 Peter 4:12-5:11
This week we come to the conclusion of our readings in I Peter. We have seen that Peter is speaking to a people who are not only in the minority faithwise, but they are also shunned and dismissed by that community. As we have read this letter, each chapter has seemed to intensify the hostility of the community towards this small groups of followers of Jesus in these various communities. Ih the midst of this, Peter has called the followers to not only be faithful in their own faith, but to also be respectful to those that would persecute them for their faith.
In this final reading, we see Peter tell the suffering followers that there is a reason for this suffering, there is a purpose. In the end, Peter explains, this suffering and pain will increase the strength of their faith and it will bring glory to God.
Consider the prayer of Jesus as he is about to face his intense time of persecution, dismissal, hostility directed at him, and the bearing of the sins of all mankind as you read Peter’s exhortation to these exiled believers. Jesus’ coming pain, and the followers current pain, will all, eventually bring glory to God pointing to God.