O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: Do not leave us comfortless, but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
FIRST READING: Acts 1:6-14: The Ascension
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.[a]
1 O clap your hands together, all you peoples; *
O cry aloud unto God with shouts of joy.
2 For the Lord Most High is to be feared; *
he is the great King over all the earth.
3 He shall subdue the peoples under us, *
and the nations under our feet.
4 He shall choose our inheritance for us, *
the pride of Jacob whom he loved.
5 God has gone up with a shout of triumph, *
the Lord with the sound of the trumpet.
6 O sing praises, sing praises unto our God; *
O sing praises, sing praises unto our King.
7 For God is the King of all the earth; *
think upon his mighty acts and praise him with a song.
8 God reigns over the nations; *
God sits on his holy throne.
9 The princes of the peoples are gathered with the people of the God of Abraham; *
for the mighty upon earth have become the servants of the Lord, and he is very highly exalted.
SECOND READING: 1 Peter 4:12-19 : Suffering as a Christian
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory[a] and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[b]
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
GOSPEL: John 17 : The High Priestly Prayer
17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
NOTES from the Orthodox Study Bible
ACTS 1:6 That the disciples are still fixated on the establishment of an earthly kingdom shows that the Holy Spirit has not yet been given, for only after Pentecost do the disciples receive the full understanding of the Kingdom of God. Here, the disciples are asking the wrong question, for Christ will not restore the kingdom to Israel, but will rather restore Israel and the world to the Kingdom.
1:9-11 Christ's Ascension is His enthronement in the fullness of divine authority and glory. Icons of the Ascension represent Christ in such a way that one cannot tell whether He is going to heaven or coming again to earth. This captures the profound truth that we are already living under His reign while awaiting His return. Thus, the icon shows Christ being taken up (v. 11), coming again in like manner (v. 11), and yet continually present (Mt 28:20). Believers are not to stand idly gazing up into heaven, but rather are called to virtuous faith and action in this world until Christ's return.
Psalm 47 is a prophecy of Christ (the End) and His ascension to the Father (v. 6). And the Man who ascended is called God, Lord, Most High, and King; therefore, Jesus Christ is coequal with the Father. Also, the ascended Christ is worshiped by the Church both as God and Man, and with joy, with fear and with intelligence.
1Peter 4:12-13 The fiery trial is the suffering of tribulations that tempt us to unfaithfulness, to the ruin of our faith. God's people have always suffered unjustly, but in baptism the sufferings in which we partake are those of Christ Himself, which will ultimately bring great joy (v. 13).
4:17-19 Slander and persecution purify the Church for judgment, but persecutors and the ungodly (v. 18) are heaping up condemnation for themselves. The severity of the present judgment of the righteous is evidence that the ungodly face a fearsome fate. Christians who suffer can always be confident that God is faithful (v. 19) and good.
John 17:3 The knowledge of the only true God is far more than intellectual understanding. It is participation in His divine life and in communion with Him. Thus, eternal life is an ongoing, loving knowledge of God in Christ and the Holy Spirit.
17:4 Christ's work can never be separated from who He is. This verse is a statement each believer can make at the end of life, no matter how long or short that life may be.
17:6 These are the apostles. They are the ones through whom God's word comes to us. This handing down of God's word to successive generations is called apostolic tradition.
Isaiah prophesied that in the days of the Messiah, the knowledge of the Name of God would be revealed (Is 52:6). Your name: In the OT times, the phrase “the Name” was reverently used as a substitute for God's actual Name “Yahweh,” which was too sacred to pronounce. The fuller revelation of the Name was given to those who believe in Christ, for Christ manifested the Name not only by declaring the Father, but by being the very presence of God and sharing the Name with Him.
7:9 Christ first prayed for Himself (vv. 1–5) and secondly for them, the apostles (vv. 6–19). Only then does He pray for those whom You have given Me— all who will come to believe in Him (vv. 20–26). Here the world is the portion of humanity in rebellion against God, those who prefer darkness to His light.
CHALLENGE: What is the work God is calling you to accomplish?
GOING DEEPER: 21 LAWS OF LEADERSHIP BY JOHN MAXWELL
The Law of the Inner Circle: Leading When No One Sees
John 17:11–26 Read ALL of John 17
The majority of what we call Jesus’ “high priestly prayer” concerns His inner circle. At the end of His life, He felt acutely aware that the success of His work depended chiefly on the twelve disciples He had trained. Observe what He prayed for:
2. Their fulfillment (v. 13)
5. Their fruitfulness (vv. 18–20)
6. Their fellowship (vv. 21–23)
7. Their sense of family (vv. 24–26)
When Jesus knew He had but 12 hours left to live, He didn’t start big campaigns. He didn’t try to change laws. He didn’t even do any more public ministry. He spent the time praying.
Prayer is a chief task of the leader (Acts 6:4). The leadership we provide which no one sees may be more important than what we do in public. Followers think of leadership in terms of the visible. In reality, leadership is like an iceberg; most of it lies unseen.
A leader’s prayer tells you a lot about the leader. It reveals his or her commitment and concerns. Prayer keeps the leader focused. It keeps a leader dependent on God. It sustains the leader’s heart for people. If we are to lead people, we must pray for them.