Acts 20.17-27; Psalm 67; John 17.1-11
Whereas the three ‘Synoptic’ Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) show Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before his arrest, praying in staccato bursts ‘Father, let this cup pass from me, but not my will, let thine be done’, St John portrays a much calmer Jesus whose prayer occupies the whole of John’s Gospel’s 17th Chapter. Here Jesus is revealed to us as one whose will has been entirely united to that of his Father. He asks not for relief from the anguish of the hour [cf John 12.27-28] but for complete and perfect Union with the Father who has brought him to this place and time. This is the prayer of the priestly Jesus, the mediator betwixt God and humanity. It is the prayer of the Jesus who is at once perfectly and completely God and perfectly and completely man. He strides like the Colossus across the rupture between the Creator and his creation, in his own body uniting the severed halves. [cf Ephesians 2.14] Even before he has mounted the cross and battered the enemies of God and of his people, this Jesus can confidently assert that he has ‘finished the work you can me to do.’
For John the cross is not a picture of Christ’s suffering but of his glorification. John has no account of the physical ‘ascension’ of Christ, of his return to the Father. For John Jesus’ perfect submission to the will of his Father effects their reunion. Jesus can calmly face the ignominy of the Cross because he has learnt that in obedience to his Father lies perfect freedom.