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Seventh Sunday of Easter, Cycle C

As is appropriate for this Seventh Sunday of Easter, the Sunday after the Ascension of the Lord, the emphasis within these texts is on the exaltation of the Lord. In Psalm 97 it is the Lord (Adonai) who is exalted. The exalted Lord Jesus and the Most High God are said to have removed the spirit of divination from the slave girl in the Acts 16:16-34 account and opened the gates of the Roman prison. In the Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21 text it is said that the exalted Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, will be coming soon to judge everyone and to give the water of life to those who are thirsty. In the final portion of the prayer of the Johannine Jesus in John 17:20-26 the members of the Johannine community and those who will believe in the exalted Johannine Jesus through their word are said to be one with the Johannine Jesus in the glory that the Father has given to the Johannine Jesus.

Psalm 97

Those who live in accordance with the precepts of the Lord God as perceived by the Israelites will be filled with joy, for the Lord God reigns over all the earth. The Lord God is exalted far above those who are perceived to be God by people among the other nations. Therefore, Zion and the daughters of Jerusalem will be glad; they will be delivered from the hand of the wicked. They shall prepare themselves by hating all that is evil and by giving thanks to the Lord God of Israel.

Acts 16:16-34

With the subtlety that is characteristic of the inspired Lukan wrier, the Lukan playwright proclaimed in this account that the power of the Most High God present in the exalted Lord Jesus was infinitely greater than the power of the Romans and of the Roman Empire. This text is especially meaningful for Christians who practice Believer’s Baptism, for in it the jail warden at Philippi who asks what he should do to be saved is told that he should believe in the Lord Jesus and he and his household will be saved. Baptism follows instruction and confession of faith in this account.

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

This text is a reminder to us that the Seventh Sunday of Easter marks the end of the first half of the Church Year. It is somewhat like a “Christ the King” Sunday. This text in Revelation 22 is particularly comforting to those believers who are heavily oppressed in this world or are otherwise nearing the point of death. The rich symbolism of this final chapter of the Christian Apocalypse should not be unnoticed during our worship services next Sunday.

John 17:20-26

This is the portion of the prayer of the Johannine Jesus that is existentially most significant for us, since we are among those who have believed in Jesus because of the words of the members of the Johannine community. In this text we have the most pronounced ecumenical prayer within the Newer Testament. It is the biblical basis for our most sincere efforts for denominational unity, for Christian unity, and for human unity. Even if the members of the Johannine community wanted unity on their own terms (just as most of us do), they did have their Johannine Jesus pray for unity and most likely themselves prayed fervently for unity, particularly for unity with the representatives of the much larger communities of followers of Jesus who produced and used the Synoptic Gospels. Certainly we should reflect theologically over this prayer for unity and make it our prayer next Sunday within the congregations in which we live and serve.

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Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen