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Jesus Prays for His Disciples (Rabel)

(Back) The Sixteenth Chapter of John The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus (Next)

This is a series of lectures given by Mr. Edward Rabel, member of the faculty of S.M.R.S.
Winter semester 1976 - 2nd. Yr. Class. Lecture given on June 4, 1976

Matt. 26:36-46 and John 17:1-26, pp. 297-301 of transcript.

17:1These things spake Jesus; and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that the son may glorify thee: 17:2even as thou gavest him authority over all flesh, that to all whom thou hast given him, he should give eternal life. 17:3And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ. 17:4I glorified thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which thou hast given me to do. 17:5And now, Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

17:6I manifested thy name unto the men whom thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them to me; and they have kept thy word. 17:7Now they know that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are from thee: 17:8for the words which thou gavest me I have given unto them; and they received them, and knew of a truth that I came forth from thee, and they believed that thou didst send me. 17:9I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me; for they are thine: 17:10and all things that are mine are thine, and thine are mine: and I am glorified in them. 17:11And I am no more in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are. 17:12While I was with them, I kept them in thy name which thou hast given me: and I guarded them, and not one of them perished, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. 17:13But now I come to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy made full in themselves. 17:14I have given them thy word; and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17:15I pray not that thou shouldest take them from the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one. 17:16They are not of the world even as I am not of the world. 17:17Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth. 17:18As thou didst send me into the world, even so sent I them into the world. 17:19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

17:20Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on me through their word; 17:21that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us: that the world may believe that thou didst send me. 17:22And the glory which thou hast given me I have given unto them; that they may be one, even as we are one; 17:23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that thou didst send me, and lovedst them, even as thou lovedst me. 17:24Father, I desire that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

17:25O righteous Father, the world knew thee not, but I knew thee; and these knew that thou didst send me; 17:26and I made known unto them thy name, and will make it known; that the love wherewith thou lovedst me may be in them, and I in them.

Chapter 17 of John is one long prayer, usually designated as the intercessory prayer.

Q. Before we go on, could you give us your thoughts about that?

A. My opinion of that is that when Jesus is using the words "the Father" as an actual state of existence, I think He means the dimension of being in which Christ-consciousness is the normal state, full awareness of my innate wholeness and spiritual perfection. I call that Christ-consciousness, and I think Jesus is using the words "the Father" as naming a state of existence, where Christ-consciousness would be just as normal as Adam-consciousness is to us, in this state.

Q. For me, it is as if Jesus Christ has linked up the Christ-consciousness with the mass-consciousness a new way, and the going and the coming have solidified that link, like a stepping-stone and made that consciousness more readily available to the mass.

A. You are right. That is what Charles Fillmore said. He states it that Jesus made the connection for us, but in another place he said that Jesus re-made the connection for us. Now, which one is right, I do not know, but either would have the same result. In other words, Mr. Fillmore indicates in one place that Jesus made the first connection to the greater dimension for us; then in another place he inferred that we had the connection, then lost it in consciousness and that Jesus re-established it for us. But that is it. He solidified the connection, and it will not be broken again, if it ever was at one time. You see, there are two points of view, but it really is not important, which one is correct. The connection is made, and we are now a part of that connection: that is the important thing.

Now, in the intercessory prayer Jesus actually reiterates many of the ideas in the previous chapter, prior to the actual prayer. He reviews them again in a prayer-like form. They are blended into this prayer. Even though the prayer, itself, as you read it sounds as though Jesus is directing that prayer to the Father, as you and I would utter a personal prayer, yet at the same time, we have to realize that Jesus, in the Gospels, does not do anything privately, personally, for Himself. Even His prayers, His words from the cross, are not the statement of a private person going about his own business, as we do. Everything Jesus does is designed, calculated, for mankind's sake. He is not going about His business except that it be the Father's business. His prayer, here, is not a personal, private thing between me, Jesus, and my Father, even though much of it is in that literal form. It is a continuation of what He is always doing, teaching Truth, revealing divine ideas and spiritual principles. Even though literarily and on printed form it is a prayer, yet it is metaphysically His means of continuing and re-emphasizing the important points of His Truth-teaching.

In our “Harmony of the Gospels”, Page 201, the Matthew version, we read of singing hymns. I did not know that they sang hymns then. I thought that hymns began with the later church, but evidently they had hymns back then. They could not have been about Jesus Christ. In the 39th verse we read, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." Folks, if that is not a supplicatory prayer, I never heard one. I do not like to hear people say, "You must never ask, you must never supplicate. You must claim and declare and decree what is already yours." Yes, but the cup of sorrow is already ours too, sometimes, and the feeling of helplessness can overtake even the strongest and best of us. I do not think that we are wise when we look down our noses at certain common denominators of human behavior and human emotionalism. But He does not stay in that state. He quickly sort of pulls Himself together, and we see that with His words in verses 40-46. You see, all along the line, Jesus reveals His complete awareness of what is going to happen. He wavers, but that moment of wavering was for our sakes, He was illustrating, illustrating, teaching, teaching, not going through things subjectively the way we do. He was in charge.

Q. Doesn't it actually have to be that way, because if the others were sleeping, it had to be a teaching?

A. Yes, I am quite convinced of that.

Q. I have always wondered about the authenticity of that passage, where Jesus was all alone and praying by Himself. We had to learn about this from someone who was there with Him.

A. Not always, like the temptations in the wilderness. There was no eyewitness to that. Also, many of those long, long discourses could not have been quote verbatim, different things like this, which all bring us back to the mystery of the authorship of every single book of the Bible. We do not really know how the books of the Bible actually were written, because you will notice that every time they think they have that mystery all solved because of the discovery somewhere of some kind of an ancient something, it turns out to be a replica, a replica of yet something else.

As much as he has written and talked about the Bible, Mr. Fillmore says hardly anything at all about "the Bible”, only about meanings of what we call "the Bible", meanings of the words now in the Bible, We don't know how these were written. This is strictly a guess, but I think that the books of the Bible that we have now were produced by means that we would call supernatural or occult, that would not fit into any materialistic kind of explanation, that if there was a person existing today who literally knew, technically, how the books of the Bible were written and produced and got into our hands and would give verbally this information to us, we would not know what he is talking about. That is my guess. We would not know what he was talking about, or we would not believe it.

Q. What does it mean when He tells the disciples to take their rest and then turns around and tells them to arise?

A. There is an inconsistency there. I do not know.

Q. Another important thing is that He again repeats, "Watch and pray."

A. Yes. If you look in the Gospels for the same literary qualities that make other books great, you won't find them there. If you buy a book from a bookstore and you are reading it, and it is great; you give the reason why it is great, you would say, "The author means everything he says, the way he says it. There are no contradictions in the book. Everything is empirically provable." You cannot say any of those things about the Gospels, yet they are the greatest books we have. They are inconsistent, there are contradictions galore, there is suspicious translating, in many cases, and little of it can be empirically proved to the university faculty's satisfaction; yet there is something in man that responds to the spirit of it, the “gist” of it, and that is what we are concerned with.

Q. When you were talking about the Bible being produced by an occult means, was it Charles Fillmore or Edgar Cayce that went to their death saying that it had been revealed to them how the Bible was written but they would never tell?

A. Yes, and Mr. Cayce also had a severe, severe shock and long, serious incapacitation after he gave his secret reading on the real origin of the Gospels, which was something he was very, very interested in and thought he knew the experts, that Matthew wrote the book of Matthew and Luke wrote Luke in such and such a year because this church said so; but he went into one of his readings about the authorship of the Bible and came out in such a state of shock that he had to go to bed for a long time. I don't know whether that information that he got is published yet, but when I learned about this many years ago, he said it was not to be published.

Q. One of the things that came to my mind about this passage is that Jesus was going through such an intense, sorrowful mourning, because He had quickened so much of Himself, He was able to endure it; but the disciples could not cope with it. The body functions could not be alert enough to be awakened and be with Jesus.

A. I hear what you are saying and it makes sense, that their falling asleep was not a conventional thing; it was sort of a merciful, anesthetizing of their sensibilities because of the great intensity in what was going on in Jesus.

Now, when you said He was sorrowful, I know the text says this. He is saying, "My soul is sorrowful even unto death" but I think here we have to be careful. My feeling is that this word sorrowful used by Jesus is not the usual kind of sorrow that we are acquainted with but the word could have been translated from another word that means something different. It could be translated as sorrow, but I think Jesus was speaking of a feeling, an emotion, that we would not know what is even if another word was used, a very special kind of sorrow. I think it was more than that, because He knew exactly the reason for this whole business, and it was a divine reason. So I do not see Him going through the conventional "sorry" type of thing.

Q. I have a feeling that goes along with this. We have set a great task before us, and it is almost to that point of completion. When you have spent countless hours and trials and tribulations, there is almost a let-down at the point of completion. All of a sudden you are through with all these energies. This has been a great work that you have been doing, and then all of a sudden it is almost over. You kind of wish you weren't achieving that goal so there would be something more to do, and it is kind of a let-down.

A. I see what you mean. You are kind of sorry that you have come this far in the thing, because you know that soon it is going to be accomplished. It could be that too, because even in His great illumination and great development of power in consciousness, Jesus maintains a streak of sentimentality. Do you know what I mean? As great and powerful as He is, as understanding and brave as He is, with all that, up to the very end He maintains a certain sentimentality in His nature. I am going to give my reason as to why I think He did: so that we could always identify with Him. Had He given up that and showed Himself only to be divine, period, we would not be able to identify with Him, you see. We have a hard time identifying with perfect creatures, so we make statues of them instead.

Q. I have always felt that Jesus did a lot of sorrowing, but not for Himself but a type of sorrow that one can only feel toward one's fellow man.

A. Yes, a sort of an empathy-sorrow. I agree; that makes sense.

Q. As a teaching method, too, whoever wrote this book, isn't it possible that if I say, "Boy if I were going through that situation, this is how I would feel. I would like this to be taken from me, but because I am committed, I will go ahead and do it." From the writer's standpoint, he might have felt that Jesus was feeling this way and may have put some of his own feeling into this story when he recorded it. So it may not be the way Jesus felt at all.

A. Yes, you are right; and remember this, folks, the Gospels are really not books about these characters. That is the literary form. That is the narrative given. I could say this about any of the books of the Bible. The life of Jesus was not really about Jesus. I am not talking about a book now, but about the actual incarnation. It was not really about Jesus. It was all about humanity, you and me; and these books of the Bible are not about Moses, Abraham but about evolving humanity from Adam to Christ.

Q. Then He was trying to tell us that the symbol of greatness is humility.

A. Right, humility and many other qualities which churches often have left out of their description of perfect man.

Q. You find out in this world that the really great men have that characteristic.

A. Yes and at least a thread of that sentimentality. You must have that.

In this incident, Jesus chooses to reveal a great deal of the son-of-man-aspect of Himself. Whether He did it on purpose as a teaching method or whether it was something that really did express from Him spontaneously, we cannot be sure; but in either case we have the statement. Perhaps nowhere else in the Gospels does the human aspect of Jesus find such poignant expression. We can all identify so closely with these statements that it is uncanny, which leads me to believe that Jesus deliberately spoke.

Notice the revelatory character of these utterances: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death." Now, all of us have said the equivalent of that dozens of times in our existence, usually at moments when we were closest to our greatest triumphs; when you were nearest to your great accomplishments was when you had a mood like that come over you and you found a way to express it. Here is another very familiar utterance, from all of our souls, "Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away." In how many situations in life have we said this? I'll do it if I have to, but, oh, if I don't have to, get me out of here! If Jesus says things like this, then it's okay that we say them. Don't be ashamed. How about this? We've all said this in some way or other, "Could ye not watch with me even one hour?" Can't you sit in this class for at least one hour and pay attention and stop talking or fall asleep? We get impatient with people who do not live up to our expectations of them. That is as human as human can be. Then of course, the final, "Oh my Father, if this cup cannot pass away, except I drink it, thy will be done." And here again, when we are facing things or going through things in life that we have to go through anyway, why not do it with as good grace as possible? If you have to take it, no matter what, then the wise thing to do is take it with as good grace as possible.

Text of the original transcript at the 3rd paragraph of p.297 through the 1st paragraph of p.301.
Transcribed by Margaret Garvin on 04-14-2014