7th Sunday of Easter, 2007
Acts 16: 16-34
This morning’s gospel reading is one of a series of readings from Jesus’ farewell discourse in John’s gospel we have had the last few Sundays that will conclude with the reading for Trinity Sunday. This morning’s reading is actually the conclusion of the discourse in John’s gospel, and has been referred to since the sixteenth century as Christ’s “High Priestly Prayer.” Unfortunately, as the lectionary editors sometimes do, they have rather arbitrarily cut the reading in a way that misses the main point of the chapter, so I’m going to preach as if the reading included the entire chapter. So much the worse for the lectionary editors.
In this chapter, John summarizes three central themes in his gospel, themes that run like a red thread from beginning to end. At the same time, John introduces an interpretive principle when he expounds these themes that I call Christological subversion. This interpretive principle is not unique to John. It appears in numerous places in the New Testament, but John uses it throughout his gospel, and we will largely misunderstand the New Testament if we don’t understand the principle.