Sunday, May 2, 2021

John 17.6-19: Leaving This World

 In Jesus' so-called "High Priestly Prayer," he prays, "And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you..." (John 17:11) Jesus did leave this world when he ascended, leaving the disciples standing on Olivet. 

That the disciples were left on the earth as Jesus returned to God is a reminder of the difference between creator and creature. Humans are still in this world, though, and a good effort is expended in helping us see how it feels to leave this world. 

In 1946, rocket scientists in New Mexico launched a captured Nazi V-2 rocket into space. One of the things they equipped the rocket with was a 35mm motion picture camera. Filming as the rocket moved about 65 miles above the earth's surface, the camera captured the first pictures of earth from just beyond the beginnings of outer space. This wasn't the first image of the curvature of the earth, but it gave earth-bound humans a different view of the place where they live. The film and camera survived the rocket's crash landing because it had been secured in a steel container.

First photo from space. October 1946. (White Sands Missile Range/Applied Physics Laboratory)

Almost thirty years later, humans would see this world from even farther away, courtesy of the 'Blue Marble' photo taken by the crew of Apollo 17. 

Jesus' prayer continues, " I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them.... They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. ...As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." It's clear from Jesus' prayer that to follow Jesus is to remain here in this world, active, moving, continuing the work that Jesus did when he was in this world. It's not hard to understand, though, why we continually want to see what it's like to be far above it. 

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