The Lord’s Prayer, part 3: The Church

Posted: January 31, 2016 in John, Uncategorized

John 17:20-26, “The Lord’s Prayer, part 3: The Church”

There’s an old joke about divisions within the church:

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!”
He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”
He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?”
He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me too! Protestant or Catholic?”
He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me too! What denomination?”
He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?”
He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me too!”
“Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879 or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?”
He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?”  I said, “Die heretic!” And I pushed him over.

Sadly, the parody hits a bit too close to home many times as division runs rampant through the church.  It’s not supposed to be that way, and it certainly isn’t what Jesus desires for us.  Jesus’ actual prayer for His church (and it is HIS church) is that we are to be one, and that our unity would be a witness to the world.  When we’re not, our divisions get in the way of the gospel…and that’s tragic indeed.

Our text comes at the end of what is often called the High Priestly prayer of Jesus (the real Lord’s prayer).  After a long evening of preparing the disciples for His departure, He turned His attention to God in prayer.  First Jesus prayed for Himself, that He might be glorified by God.  When Jesus was glorified, He would in turn glorify the Father.  Next, Jesus prayed for the disciples.  God had given them to Him, and He prayed for their unity, for their protection & joy, and for their sanctification from the world.

As Jesus closes His prayer, He prays for us – the church.  Again, He prays for unity – that we would be one as He is one with His Father, and that all the world would witness it.  Our oneness is the desire of Jesus for us, and it is only accomplished by His work & grace as we walk in Him.

John 17:20–26

  • Prayer for the Church (20-23)

20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;

  • Jesus prays for US.  Ever think the Bible is about other people?  Some people wonder if God has anything to say directly to them in the pages of Scripture…it’s tough to get much more direct than this!  Of course the Bible does have much to say to us as individuals – personal application weaves its way throughout the written word, and is the natural end result of right Bible interpretation (observation – interpretation – application).  But here, the application & address is plain & simple.  Jesus is praying for you.  He prays for all of those who come to faith in Him through the message of the apostles, and that’s us.  If you believe in Jesus, then you can properly read this as Jesus praying for you.
    • FYI, Jesus still prays for you.  Romans 8:34 says that Jesus is at the right hand of God making intercession for us.  Hebrews 7:25 speaks of His role as our great High Priest, saying that Jesus always lives to make intercession for us.  Right now, Jesus is praying for you.  He wants people to receive the grace to be saved the very moment they come to faith in Him – He wants those who believe to be protected from the attacks of the evil one – He wants us to walk victoriously in the power of the Holy Spirit, and more.  Whatever it is the Bible exhorts for us, we can be sure that Jesus prays for us.  After all, it is the will of God, and we have a Grand Intercessor praying the will of God on our behalf.  Jesus is praying for you.  When you pray, do you do it with the knowledge that you are doing it in concert with Him?
  • There is an important clarification here.  Jesus doesn’t give a blanket prayer for every single human being over the last 2000 years; He has a specific group in mind.  “Those who will believe in Me through their word,” i.e. born-again Christians.  Jesus prays for those who have faith.  As we saw last week, that doesn’t mean that Jesus never prays for nonbelievers.  Their most pressing need is for them to repent & put their faith in Christ, and prayer is essential to that process.  But His most specific prayers at this point are for believers.  (And judging from the context of the Scriptures that speak of His work of intercession, so are the majority of those prayers as well.)   How do we come to faith?  Through the word of the apostles – through the message of the gospel handed down through the generations, beginning with the original 11 disciples of Jesus Christ.  That itself it an amazing thought.  True apostolic succession has nothing to do with which pope followed Peter; it is the preservation of the gospel from generation to generation as the torch of truth is passed along to fellow believers.  We have our faith in the same Jesus that Peter believed.  We heard the same gospel proclaimed by Paul & John & James & others, and we are saved in exactly the same way.  It is when we depart from apostolic truth (i.e. “their word” preserved in the Scripture) that we get into trouble.  Stay in the word!
    • BTW, notice the focus of our faith.  “Those who will believe in Me through their word.”  It is Jesus, through (by means of) the word.  The gospel is glorious & it is a gospel of salvation.  But the gospel did not do the work necessary for our salvation.  Within the gospel is the power to save (Rom 1:16), but the gospel did not die upon the cross for our sin & rise from the grave.  The gospel is simply the message of the One who did.  When we respond to the gospel, we’re placing our faith in Jesus; not a bunch of words.  The words are the means to an end.
    • So what?  So that’s the difference between placing our faith in creeds vs. Christ.  Creeds can be extremely helpful in summing up important theology.  Doctrine overall is crucial in the life of a believer, for if we do not believe the right truths about Jesus, what assurance do we have of believing in the right Jesus.  That said, doctrine doesn’t save us; Jesus does.  Having a membership within the “right” church doesn’t save us; Jesus does.  Being able to recite correct doctrine doesn’t save us; Jesus does.  The devil knows Scripture (most likely better than we do), but he isn’t saved.  We need to know Jesus if we are to know the salvation of God.  The written word tells us of the Living Word, but the Living Word is vastly superior.

21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

  • What was Jesus’ primary prayer for the church?  Unity.  “That they all may be one…”  That all those who would come to faith in Jesus through the word of the apostles would be made one in God.  How many generations have passed?  To how many cultures has the gospel been spread?  How many people would never step foot in a room with certain others, if it wasn’t for the gospel of Christ?  We are so disparate, so different from one another, and yet Jesus desires for us to be one.  To be unified in Christ is the heart of Christ for His church, and it is something that brings glory to God.
    • What unity is NOT.  It isn’t rigid uniformity, by which every person looks, acts, dresses, and thinks the same.  It certainly wasn’t that way among the apostles.  Even after Jesus rose from the dead, Peter still had a different personality than John.  Godly Spirit-filled Christians still had disagreements with one another, as Paul did with Barnabas (Acts 15:39).  It also isn’t doctrinal apathy.  Paul didn’t hesitate to confront Peter when Peter adopted a superiority over Gentiles (Gal 2:11) & Peter himself reserved some of his harshest words for people who taught false doctrine to the church (2 Pt 2:12-17).  Jesus’ prayer for unity within the church is not a plea for mindless ecumenism, by which all doctrinal differences are ignored.  Some of the differences in our teaching is the difference between truth & heresy, and that cannot be glossed over.
    • What unity IS.  It is to be unified as one in the essentials of the faith.  It’s interesting that the word the book of Acts uses to describe the earliest gatherings of believers as being in “one accord” – they had a common purpose or passion together (Acts 1:14, 2:1, 2:46, 4:24, 5:12).  They believed in the same Jesus, were filled by the same Spirit, had the same heart to see the glory of God & to be used by God in proclaiming the gospel to those around them.  That is true unity!  (AT Robertson) “The only possible way to have unity among believers is for all of them to find unity first with God in Christ.”  It is God who makes us one, thus we must first turn to the true God in faith if unity is to exist at all.  Thus, Jesus prays “they may be one in Us.”  We find our unity as a church when we find our common faith in God.
  • How did Jesus describe the unity He desires for us?  The unity we have within the church is to be on par with the Triune God.  As the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father, so are Christians to be with one another.  The Father is certainly different from the Son in Person, but they are one together in essence & purpose.  The Son always did the will of the Father, and the Father always heard the prayers of the Son.  How so?  Because they are one…so much so that we rightly affirm that we worship ONE God.  This one God is eternally revealed in three Persons, but He is still one God.  That same level of unity is what Jesus prayed for the church.  Individual churches may differ in many ways today, but there is still just one church.  There is still only one body of Christ, the invisible church which stretches through time, cultures, and denominations.
    • How important this is to remember!  There may be hundreds of churches in Tyler, Lindale, & elsewhere in East Texas, but we are not in competition with a single one of them.  Obviously not every building that is labeled as a church is filled with true Christians, but those that are, they are not our enemies.  They want to see people saved, just like we do.  They want Jesus to be glorified, just like we do.  Do we want to see people walk through these doors?  Sure…but we want people to walk through the doors of every church building in Tyler, to the point of overflowing!  There aren’t enough pews in the city to hold everyone if true revival broke out.  May it break out, and may be the church be united in our prayers to God that it would do so!
  • What would be the result of all of this?  It would be a witness to the world.  Jesus prays that we would be one, “that the world may believe that You sent Me.”  One of the purposes & goals for our unity is evangelism.  When the world sees different people from different tribes & tongues all uniting together through the salvation we have found in Christ, it is a testimony to them that the gospel of Christ is true.  Jesus said something similar earlier that evening when speaking to the disciples.  John 13:34–35, "(34) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (35) By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”"  How is unity best expressed?  Through love.  As we love one another, united together in a common faith serving God with the common purpose of proclaiming the gospel, the truth of that gospel will be displayed for all the world to see.  After all, how else can our transformation be explained?  Former drug addicts & alcoholics seated joyfully next to people who never spent a single night in jail – those who came from broken families & those who came from joyful ones – those who are 2 days old in the faith & those who have been walking years with Jesus – whatever your testimony, you are seated next to someone with a completely different testimony than you & you are still one body of Christ.  We were all kinds of people, but now we are one church…solely because we have our faith in the Jesus who died for our sins & rose from the grave.  That kind of transformation only takes place because the gospel is true!  And when our love for one another & our unity among one another is on display, it is impossible for the world around us to ignore.  Do you want to reach your world for Christ?  Begin by loving your fellow Christian!

22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:

  • Not only did Jesus pray for us to be one; He gave us the means by which we can be one: the glory of God.  How have we received glory?  We received glory when Jesus gave Himself.  Literally, His words could be translated, “And I the glory which You gave, Myself I have given to them.”  His presence among and within Christians unites us together as one church.  Again, there may be many congregations & denominations throughout the world, but for those who believe in the Biblical gospel, there is only one church.  If we are in Christ, then we have the glory of God within us.  Jesus is the brightness of the glory of God (Heb 1:3), and He Himself is the glory of God within the church.
  • Question: if unity has already been given, why don’t we see it?  Actually, on one hand we do.  We ARE one in Christ, simply because there is only one body of Christ.  That is a theological fact & it is on display virtually every time someone steps onto the mission field or at an evangelistic outreach.  At that point, denominational differences easily disappear. That said, we cannot deny that there is much division among believers.  Why?  The easy answer is because we’re human & we sin…but this manifests itself in several ways.
    • We major on the minors.  We divide too sharply over non-essential doctrine.  There are truths that are important, but have no effect on our salvation.  Some differences may be enough to cause us to worship in different buildings, but aren’t enough to divide us away from Jesus.  We need to be able to tell the difference between essential & non-essential doctrine.
    • We are easily offended & slow to forgive.  It is inevitable that our feelings will be hurt at some point by another Christian.  Deal with it.  We are called to forgive, so forgive.  Christians have no business holding grudges.  At the same time, if you know that you have caused offense, then do the right thing and seek reconciliation.
    • We are proud & self-centered.  We all want our own churches to be the biggest & best, and instead of looking to the good of THE church, we only look inwardly at our own church.  This is pride, pure & simple, and we need to humble ourselves & seek God’s forgiveness.
    • We are easily distracted.  We’ve clearly been given a mission from our Lord, but too many Christians have gotten waylaid by our fascination with the stuff of the world. It’s difficult to be unified in Christ as we reach out to the world if we end up looking just like the world.  When we find more in common with our culture than the church, then we have a problem.
    • Whatever the reason, we are without excuse.  Jesus prays for us to be one – He makes us one – thus we need to act as one.

23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

  • Don’t miss the repetition here.  Jesus so desires our unity that He prays for it multiple times, using the same analogy of the inter-Trinitarian relationships.  Our unity to reflect the unity of the Godhead.  We can hardly think of God the Son without thinking of God the Father, and so it is to be with the church.  Be it Calvary Chapel, Assembly of God, Southern Baptist, or whatever other Bible-believing group, when we think of one church we are to think of THE church.
  • Unity brings completeness.  When we are one in Christ, we are “made perfect in one.”  The word for “perfect” speaks of finishing – being made total & complete.  The same root word is used by Jesus while He hangs upon the cross & says “It is finished!” (Jn 19:30)  There is a purpose to our unity – God desires to use it in our lives to make us into something that we cannot be otherwise.  As individuals, we can be believers; it is only together that we can be the church.  Jesus said that He will build His church & that the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Mt 16:18).  Jesus has called us out from the world & called us to be one together in Him.
    • Lone Ranger Christianity is an oxymoron!  (Not moronic; though it could be. J)  It’s an idea that doesn’t make any sense, like “pretty ugly” or “deafening silence.”  Christians are sometimes isolated from the rest of the body of Christ, but it’s never God’s desire that Christians ought to be permanently alone.  After all, not even God Himself leaves us alone – the moment we come to faith in Christ, God the Holy Spirit comes and dwells within us.  We are meant to be a part of the body; not apart from it.  It is through this unity with one another that God brings us to completion.
  • Not only does Jesus repeat the prayer for unity along the lines of the Trinity, but He also repeats the purpose of unity regarding evangelism.  Through our completed unity, the world sees the truth of Jesus’ identity – they know that He has been sent by God in His holy mission to reconcile us back to God.
  • More than a repetition, Jesus expands the idea.  Not only will the world know the identity of Jesus as God, but the world will see the love of God for the church.  How much does God love us?  As much as He loves Jesus!  There is nothing that the Father would not do for the Son, and likewise for us.  This is all part of being brought into the inheritance of Christ & being made the children of God.  He loves us as His Son because we have been made the sons of God (Gal 3:26).  We have been adopted as God’s own children, fully loved by Him just as much as He has loved His only begotten Son from the foundation of the world.  What is the extent of God’s love for you?  It is immeasurable!  It is unfathomable!  It is without end, and it is only made possible by Christ Jesus.
  • Prayer for all (24-26)

24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

  • As Jesus begins to bring His prayer to a close, He changes a bit regarding those for whom He’s praying.  In vss. 6-19, Jesus had prayed for the 11 remaining disciples in the room with Him – in vss. 20-23, He prayed for all those who would believe upon Him through the word of those disciples.  Now, He seems to go back to the disciples: “they also whom You gave to Me…”  This was the same way He described the 11 back in vs. 6, and now He repeats it. That said, each person who believes upon Jesus is someone whom God has given Him.  From that perspective, it’s possible that Jesus is combining the groups here.  Now Jesus prays for everyone who believes: the 11 disciples AND all those who will follow.
  • What does He desire? (Wish, will, want) First, He wants us to be in heaven.  On one hand, the disciples were already with Jesus where He currently was (Jesus uses the present tense), but on the other hand Jesus seems to already be looking ahead to the future as if it was already accomplished.  There was no question that Jesus would soon be at the right hand of God in heaven, and His fervent desire was that those who had been given to Him would be with Him in that place forever.
    • This is also one of the things Jesus told the disciples earlier that night.  John 14:1–3, "(1) “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. (2) In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."  For the disciples & all those who believe, Jesus was going to prepare dwelling places (mansions).  He wants us to be with Him forever.  This is the future for every single believer in Jesus.  For all of eternity, we have a home promised for us with Jesus.  Keep in mind, it’s not the physical structure that’s in mind; it’s the location.  We will be with Jesus, always.  Heaven is where Jesus is, and we are going to heaven!
  • Second, Jesus wants us to see His glory.  In heaven, we will see Jesus as He truly is.  Prior to His incarnation, God the Son always had the glory of God – this is something Jesus Himself affirmed earlier in His prayer (17:5).  When Jesus came incarnate, He laid some of that glory aside to be able to dwell among sinful humans. Yet in heaven, all of the obstacles will be gone, Jesus is once again restored with His eternal glory, and we will be able to visibly look upon the Incarnate God with the glory that He has always possessed.  A few of the disciples got some preview of this along the way.  Peter, James, and John all saw the glorified Jesus during His Transfiguration.  John saw Him once more during the Revelation.  What they witnessed during those fleeting moments will be what we witness for all eternity.  It was so good that Peter never wanted to leave that place (Mt 17:4); in eternity, we won’t have to!  Not only will we always be with our Jesus, but we will always see Him for who He is, and it will be better than our minds can conceive.
  • We know that Jesus had the glory of God since before the world was formed (17:5), but why did He have it?  Because God the Son was loved by God the Father from before the foundation of the world.  God’s glory came because of God’s love – “for You loved Me…”.  The Father eternally loved the Son, and thus the Son shared the eternal glory of God.  One came as a result of the other.  A bit heady perhaps, but it gives us a bit of insight into the infinite workings of the Trinity.  There has never been a time that God the Father did not love God the Son.  The relationships within the Godhead stretch beyond time itself & beyond the capability of being measured.
    • With that in mind, what does it say about His love for us in that He sent His Son to die for us?  The Father cannot love the Son any more than He already does & always has.  And yet He loves us as well.  He loves us with that same love with which He loves Jesus.  We who were the enemies of God are loved as beloved children of God.  This is the grace you have received – this is the love of God we have experienced in Jesus.  Amazing!
    • When was the last time you really recognized the true love of God for you?  How did you let it humble your pride & lift your voice to God in worship?  What possible response can there be to that, other than total surrender & worship?

25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.

  • In 17:11, Jesus gave God the title “Holy Father;” here He calls God “righteous Father.”  As before, this is a unique usage in the gospel of John…the only time Jesus ever utters the phrase.  In fact, it’s the only time the title is used in the entire Bible.  Of course the Bible repeatedly speaks of the righteousness of God, but this is the only instance God is titled “Righteous Father.”  Righteousness is an integral part of God’s very character.  Simply put, God is righteous…He is the very definition of what righteousness is.
    • How do we determine right from wrong?  We look to the character & nature of God.  If an act matches God’s character, than it is righteous; it not, then it is sin.  Helping the orphan & widow?  Righteous.  Guarding God’s people from corruption?  Righteous.  Laying down one’s life for one’s friends?  Righteous.  These are things God Himself does, and thus they are right.  It is when we act contrary to God’s will and word that we engage in sin.  He is the ultimate moral standard & the standard by which we must judge all of our own choices & actions.
  • How do we know God’s righteousness?  (1) We have the witness of creation all around us, (2) We have the witness of the Holy Scriptures, (3) We have the witness of the Son of God.  We see the righteousness of Jesus & thus we see the righteousness of God.  WE know this, but the world does not.  The world does not & has not known God at all.  Why not?  One word: choice.  The world doesn’t want to see God, so the world does not see God.  The world chooses not to acknowledge the true God, so the world cannot know the true God.  There are many versions of god(s) that are acceptable in the eyes of the world, but the God of the Bible is not one of them. 
    • Objection: “Ease up!  That’s rather harsh.  How can you say so?”  Easy…just look at how the world treats Jesus.  Jesus made it clear: he who has seen Jesus has seen the Father (14:9) – if the world had known Jesus, they would have known the Father (14:7).  Obviously they did not know Jesus, because they sent Him to the cross.  Obviously they do not know Jesus today, because they still reject Him as God Incarnate, the Lord worthy of worship.  Unless someone knows Jesus to be God, he/she does not know Jesus at all…and if they don’t know Jesus, they don’t know God.
    • Does it sound intolerant?  Does it sound narrow-minded?  Sorry, not sorry.  Facts are inherently narrow & dreadfully intolerant.  A fact is a fact, no matter how badly we might wish it to be different.  Facts are either right or wrong.  When it comes to Jesus, we’re dealing with a set of facts.  Either Jesus was & did everything the Bible says He is & did, or it’s false somewhere along the way.  We can’t have some of Jesus & some of Mohammed & some of Buddha & some of XYZ religion.  Each one is mutually exclusive of the other.  (Even Unitarian universalism is exclusive in the fact that it claims all other claims to exclusivity are wrong.)  So it comes down to this: which set of facts are correct?  Which set of fact are the right facts?  If Christianity is correct, then Jesus made it clear that only the people who know Him know God.  If Christianity is correct, then Jesus is clear that only those who know God have eternal life (17:3).  So is Christianity correct?  Yes…because Jesus rose from the dead.
  • So the world has not known God, but has anyone?  Yes!  Jesus Himself!  “I have known You.” Nobody knows God like Jesus has known God.  Jesus has known His Father from before the foundations of the world.  There has never been a time that God the Son has not existed, and thus there has never been a time that God the Son did not know God the Father.  In addition, no one knows the Father in the same way as the Son.  Remember that He is eternally loved by God & shares the same glory as God.  Jesus IS God.  This is why Jesus could so perfectly reveal God to us.  No one knows the Father as much as the Son.  Abraham, Moses, and David all knew God in wonderful ways, but not even they knew God the Father as Jesus knows Him.  And because Jesus does know Him, that means Jesus can reveal Him to us (something Jesus picks up on in vs. 26).
  • The world doesn’t know God – Jesus does know God – but what about the disciples & the rest of us?  We do know God, because we know Jesus.  As Jesus says, His disciples “have known that You sent Me.”  IOW, they (and we) know Jesus’ identity.  They had faith.  They saw the work of Jesus & believed.  In fact, they confessed their own belief earlier that night (16:30), just as they had done in various points throughout His ministry.  And again, because they knew Jesus, they could be assured of knowing God.
    • Their assurance is our assurance.  If you know Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, then you know God the Father Himself.  Our salvation is fully vested in our knowledge of God the Son.  When we know Him personally, then we know God personally & are known by Him.
    • Perhaps the question for you today is if you know Jesus?  Do you have a personal living relationship with Jesus as the Living God?  Do you know Him for who He is, and would Jesus say that He knows you as His own?  If you are not 100% sure of that, then you need to commit your life to Jesus today.  You can have this kind of assurance, but it doesn’t come through half-hearted faith.  You need to enter into a real, living relationship with Jesus today.
  • In Jesus’ knowledge of God, He reveals God to us.  What does He reveal?  See vs. 26…

26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

  • Jesus reveals God’s name.  Jesus basically said the same thing in vs. 6, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world.”  There is a slightly different verb that is used, but the general idea is the same.  Jesus made known to His disciples (and makes known to us) the true character and person of God.  In that culture, someone’s name represented their very being – which is why when we pray, we pray in Jesus’ name.  We come on the basis of His authority & person; not our own.  So when Jesus says that He has declared the name of God, He says that He has revealed God Himself.  This was something Jesus did simply by showing up!  As the λογος, Jesus IS the revelation/declaration of God, and perfectly represents God for all the world to see.  Whether in His presence or in His teaching or in His miracles, Jesus is the right revelation of God for the disciples & for all of us.
  • This is something that had already taken place in the past & would continue to take place in the future.  He had “declared…and will declare…”  Throughout His ministry, Jesus revealed the character of God to His disciples, but although Jesus’ earthly ministry was nearly complete, His declaration of God was not.  Jesus would declare God’s glory and name when He went to the cross, when He rose from the dead, and when He ascended to heaven.  In fact, Jesus is still declaring God’s name to God’s people even to this present day!  Each and every time someone comes to faith in Jesus, it is because the declaration of God has been made known to them.
  • What does this declaration of God’s name do?  It instills the love of God into God’s people.  Once again, we see the love with which the Father loved the Son is the love with which the Father loves the people who believe in the Son.  We are loved by God in the same way He loves Jesus.  Can we even comprehend such a thought?!
  • What’s more is that the declaration of Jesus concerning God is the means by which Jesus Himself indwells us: “…and I in them.”  When we believe upon Jesus through faith, He personally indwells us via the Holy Spirit.  When Jesus used the analogy of the vine & branches, He spoke of us abiding in Him as the vine, drawing life from Him just as branches draw life from the vine.  We are to dwell in Him, just as He dwells in us.  How does it take place?  Via Jesus’ declaration of God – through the message of the gospel – through the work that is done by Christ.  He has revealed God to us so that we may believe, and once we believe, He indwells us & abides in us AS God.  How amazing the work of Jesus is on our behalf!

Conclusion:
Jesus prayed, and He prayed specifically for you.  For all the generations who would believe in the gospel handed down by the apostles, He prayed that we would be one.  We are united in our faith – we are united in the person of Jesus – we are united in the love of God.  Jesus has already done the work in making us one; now may we walk as one!  May we walk as the singular body of Christ, the church – the sons & daughters of God. 

And when we do, what a glorious witness it will be to all the world!  When they see how we are reconciled to God & to one another – when they see how we are made new creations in Christ & how old differences no longer divide us – the truth of gospel will be inescapable.  Whether or not they receive Jesus as Lord is another matter, but they will not be able to deny that Jesus is indeed Lord.  One of the very best things we can do in our proclamation of the gospel is to demonstrate the gospel in action – and that begins with loving unity.

If we know that Jesus has made us one, what is it that keeps us from walking as one?  In some cases, there might be legitimate doctrinal error that needs to be corrected.  May we seek God for repentance & right teaching, that those who have been deceived may have their eyes enlightened to the truth.  (And may we be humble enough to admit our own errors!)  In other cases, there may be majoring on the minors, or sinful pride, or other issues that can (and should) also be confessed & forsaken.  These things are plainly outside the will of God for us, so let us be done with them & join in the prayer that Jesus prayed for His church!

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