19 April 2013

That they all may be one: John 17 and the futility of prayer

Jesus didn't pray much in the gospels, but in John 17, he really got carried away.

He goes on and on for 24 verses, asking his father to glorify him with the same glory that he had back before the universe was created.
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son ... And now, O Father, glorify thou me ... with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. John 17:1-5
It's pretty boring stuff, until he says this:
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  John 17:20-23
From which we can conclude two things:
  1. Nothing fails like prayer (even when Jesus does the praying), and
  2. God didn't send Jesus.



3 comments:

TWF said...

I just touched on this very same theme earlier today in my study across all of the Gospels regarding Jesus' prayer before the arrest. I found that issue to be the most interesting part of that whole rambling prayer in John 17 too. Well put. It is somewhat of an easy proof of Jesus' lack of divinity, or at least the falsehood of John's Gospel.

Did you make that schism timeline chart? That's pretty nice.

Toss Salad said...

This is my first time posting, but I have read through your posts on the tally of killings (and their very interesting comments), and I commend you for your detailed work.

Assuming that your general premise is to argue the fallibility/falsehood of the Bible/Christianity, and that this post is to satirize your target, I think you might be better off finding other passages than this prayer to deconstruct.

The way Christians are likely to reply is by presenting Jesus in John as the "Word" which became the "Son". Jesus is both 100% "man" but who is also somehow 100% filled with God. Don't ask how; that's the leap of faith which is supposed to make sense. Anyway, this relates to the beginning of John, and so this passage, at Jesus' death in flesh, marks the end of Jesus' ministry and is a concluding statement for what he was here to do, written for the benefit of readers. This prayer can even be said to be partly rhetorical in nature. This passage is within the Last Supper. Immediately preceding John 17 (at the end of John 16), Jesus' disciples are gathered around him and are waiting to hear more words of wisdom and comfort, for Jesus had told somewhat mysteriously that he is leaving and they cannot follow. Jesus' concluding prayer may not necessarily be to actually beg the Father for anything. Rather, he is simply verbalizing his ultimate desire for his disciples to unify in one system of belief in Jesus' divinity.

If the prayer is in fact a bona fide prayer, however, why does Jesus need to pray to God (even if he is God)? Because he "is also man", and experiences everything a (most perfect) man will experience and want. Of course, this belief then requires the belief in not only that somehow, while he is perfectly 100% God, there exists some chasm between Jesus the Man and Jesus the God/Word. Of course, this apparent contradiction between a perfect man (man, by Biblical definition, cannot be perfect) who is filled with God and yet is also imperfect so as to require additional shoring up between this split personality is overlooked by Christians. Maybe Christians simply use the token "God works in mysterious ways" to paper things over and think about happier thoughts instead.

Stephen said...

He goes on and on for 24 verses, asking his father to glorify him with the same glory that he had back before the universe was created.

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son ... And now, O Father, glorify thou me ... with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. John 17:1-5

I must point out a discrepancy of about 8.7 billion years, during which Jesus was basking in glory before the world was created.
The Universe is about 13.2 billion years old, while the world, a relative baby, is only about 4.2 billion years of age. It was during those 8.7 billion years that stars were exploding and coughing up the heavy elements that make up the world and everything in it... including Jesus!
Steve Weeks