Jesus’ high priestly prayer is found in John 17
. This chapter is one that I am very familiar with. I’ve memorized it twice and recited it dozens of times, perhaps even a hundred by now.
The other day the Lord and I went for a quoting walk and John 17
happened to the chapter in line to be reviewed. I had some difficulty brushing up on a few verses, but by the grace of God I kept forging ahead.
Then as I arrived in the 20s, I paused my reciting as the insane reality of what I was quoting hit me like a bag of bricks. Please allow me to walk you through this mind-blowing realization.
First, notice how Jesus starts off this section of His prayer in verse 20.“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message.”
The bolded text there, if you are a believer, this is where you fit into this prayer. You are one of those who has believed in the message of the gospel that was shared by the disciples.
Now that we understand this is Jesus expressly praying for us
, let’s continue.“That all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one: I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”
Wow. Did you catch that?! Go back and reread those verses again.
How about now? I couldn’t believe how I had missed the rich depth of this text for so long!
Let us unpack the wealth contained in this verses.“That all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.”
Think about that sentence. Seriously, really think about that sentence right there.
The Trinity is a truth that we will never be able to fully wrap our minds around. Yet, something we do know is there is complete unity and oneness in the Trinity. There is no division, no strife, all that is present is perfect unity.
Jesus Himself, the Son of God, prays that this same unity in the Trinity would be present among and between believers.
If that didn’t blow your mind, the next section will.“May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one: I in them and You in Me.”
Get this-Jesus, the Son of God, prayed that we as believers would have Him present in our lives and that we would be united with Him. Think about that! Seriously, think on that! Jesus in us and God the Father in Jesus! I will state as I have stated before. As believers, our problem in resisting sin and living Christ-centered lives is not a lack of power, but rather a lack of tapping into the source of our power that we are united with, Jesus! How can one live in defeat if were united to Jesus and have access to His power flowing through us?!
And why does the Lord desire us to have this unity with Him as believers? So that the world may believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that by believing, a lost world may have life in His name.
We are not done though. Not by a long shot.“May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”
Unity in the Church. Impossible right? Apparently the Son of God didn’t and doesn’t think so. Jesus Himself prayed for our complete unity. Notice, not uniformity, but our unity.
Maybe it is just me, but when Jesus specifically prays for something, not only do I think it is important, but also necessary to the Christian life and attainable by His power.
Once again, unity in the Church is lacking, not because of a lack of power, but rather because we are not living in the power of the Holy Spirit who is present in our lives.
Look, we are each unique and different. We all have different preferences and tastes, as well as slightly different theological beliefs.Now before I state this next reality, please understand I firmly believe there is such a thing as heresy.
Those who claim Jesus is not the Son of God, is not equal to God, was just a man, that we can still regularly live in sin, who proclaim the power is inside of us and not through the Holy Spirit, those who use grace as a license to sin, those who say the Word of God is fallible and contains error, who embrace evolution and deny creation, who claim they are living in sin because this is who God made them to be-all such teaching and many other teachings like them, are indeed false doctrine and heresy and should be dealt with accordingly.
Yet, dear brothers and sisters, there are many things we have become utterly ridiculous about that is most certainly not heresy.
Pews or chairs, hymns or contemporary Christian, KJV or NIV, Suit or t-shirt and jeans, coffee or no coffee, traditional or contemporary service, piano or guitar, full band or choir, color of the walls, and the decor. None of these are reasons to have division among the Church. When you really think about this list, it seems pretty silly.
Yet, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people become bitterly divided over such petty things as these.
Rightly handled, preferences are fine, but when they become a matter of division, forget it. Look if you like hymns, I shall sing them with you. If you are kinda more of a contemporary Christian music person, fine, let’s do it! Guitar, piano, full band, choir, whatever is fine with me, let’s just be sure to keep Christ as the central focus here.
As long as we keep in perspective the gospel and our mission as believers, I am fine with slight differences.
I am not going to allow petty differences in the light of eternity separate us from serving Christ side by side. (Revelation 7:9)
Why is unity so important? Simple. It is to let the world know that God sent Jesus and that He loves believers even as He loves Jesus.What a lost world simply finds unbelievable is a group of people who state that the God of the universe sent His Son to die for them because He loves them. Then they see these very people living in disunity and not loving one another. No wonder they often mock us as phony. We are not living the very message we are proclaiming! (John 13:34-35, Romans 2:24)
So by the grace of God, let us lean into the power of the Holy Spirit and live in the unity that our Lord prayed for!“You…have loved them even as You have loved Me.”
Try to wrap your mind around this thought! One simply cannot!
The love that the Father loves His Son with, that is the same love we as believers are loved with! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Behold, what manner of love that the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called children of the living God! (1 John 3:1)
Allow me to close with a final promise from Jesus’ prayer that is so humbling and gives my heart a sure and firm hope to rest in.“Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory You have given Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world.”
Wow. All the rich blessings of Christ in this life and then Heaven!?!
Some day I will see my Lord face to face. I can’t even begin to comprehend such a glorious reality. Yet, it is true. Jesus earnestly desires that I and every other believer see Him in all of His glory.
Lord, I am so humbled and overwhelmed. Come quickly Lord Jesus, come quickly.
Yet, until that day may I be found faithful where You have placed me!"My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I have sent them into the world.
- John 17:15-18