Prayer that wants what God wants
God wants all believers united in Him
Jerry A. Collins
What is the basis of the unity of the church?
What is the purpose of this unity?
What will this unity reveal to the world?
Here we are in the third part of Jesus prayer in John 17. First he prayed for himself to be glorified. Then he pray for his disciples to be sanctified. Now he prays for our unity. We know that he is praying about the church in vs 20 when he prays for those also who believe in Me. That gathers all believers here as well as believers all over the world. This extends clear across the centuries for millions upon millions of believers. There is only one church and Jesus recognizes this in his prayer.
1. PRAY FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE THRU YOUR DISCIPLES 20 AS THIS PRAYER IS CLOSING JESUS GOES ON TO PRAY FOR THOSE WHO WILL BELIEVE IN HIM ON ACCOUNT OF THE DISCIPLES’ REPRODUCTIVE MINISTRY IN THE FUTURE. WE SHOULD DO THE SAME FOR OUR DISCIPLES MINISTRY. THESE DISCIPLES JESUS IS LEAVING BEHIND WILL CARRY ON HIS MINISTRY AND OTHERS WILL COME TO FAITH BECAUSE OF IT. THIS WILL INCLUDE JEWISH CHRISTIANS BUT OTHER GENTILE CHRISTIANS WHO ARE ‘NOT OF THIS FOLD’ (10:16) AND SO JESUS’ PRAYER FOR UNITY IS ESPECIALLY APPROPRIATE SINCE THESE TWO GROUPS ARE VERY DIFFERENT. IT IS NOT JUST A MATTER OF GETTING ALONG WITH ONE ANOTHER BUT DOING SO IN SUCH A WAY THAT WE CAN REPRODUCE THE OUTCOME OF THE APOSTLES MINISTRY THROUGH THE PROCLAMATION AND APPLICATION OF THEIR TEACHING. ALL OF THIS IS BASED UPON THE WITNESS OF THE APOSTLES THRU THEIR WORD. THE APOSTLES HAVE GIVEN US THE WORD OF TRUTH AND THE CHURCH RESTS ITS BELIEF UPON THIS APOSTOLIC WITNESS. WE DO NOT NEED MODERN APOSTLES TO DO THIS. SO THE ERRORLESS FAITH RECORD OF THE APOSTLES GIVES US A ONENESS OF FAITH THRUOUT THIS BODY WHEREVER IT EXISTS.
2. PRAY THAT THE RESULT OF XIAN UNITY WILL BE BELIEF THAT JESUS IS FROM GOD 21
THE MODEL FOR THIS UNITY IS THE UNITY WHICH EXISTS BETWEEN THE FATHER AND THE SON—A UNITY WHICH ALLOWS FOR DIVERSITY OF PERSONS WHILE MAINTAINING ESSENTIAL UNITY. 3 TIMES HE PRAYS FOR IT. WHAT IS THIS UNITY LIKE? THE LORD IS OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE (DT 6:4). HE WHO HAS SEEN ME HAS SEEN THE FATHER (JN 14:9). THE SPIRIT WILL NOT SPEAK OF HIS OWN INITIATIVE BUT WHATEVER HE HEARS, HE WILL SPEAK (JN 16:13). THE WORLD THAT BELONGS TO SATAN IS FOCUSED ON COMPROMISE AND TOLERATING EACH OTHER’S VIEW OF THINGS AND AS LONG AS WE DO SO WE ARE GOING 180 DEGREES IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF PERFECT UNITY SINCE THAT IS BASED ONLY WHEN WE ALL AGREE WITH GOD. SO THE MORE SUCCESSFUL WE ARE AT NEGOTIATING WIN, WIN’S OR COUNSELING PEOPLE TO GET ALONG, THE FURTHER AWAY WE GET FROM THE BIBLICAL IDEA OF PERFECT UNITY SINCE THAT CAN ONLY BE BASED ON THE STANDARD OF UNITY THAT EXISTS WITHIN THE GODHEAD. THAT IS NOT A UNITY THAT HAD BEEN NEGOTIATED OR TOLERATED BUT AGREEMENT BASED ON THE NATURE OF THE PERSONS IN THE GODHEAD. THAT IS THE ONLY KIND OF UNITY WE CAN STRIVE FOR. THE ULTIMATE RESULT OF SUCH UNITY, JESUS PRAYS, AMONG BELIEVERS WILL BE THAT THE WORLD COMES TO BELIEVE THAT THE FATHER SENT JESUS. THAT IS WHAT PEOPLE MUST BECOME CONVINCED OF. THERE IS ONLY ONE JESUS AND HE IS THE JESUS OF THE APOSTLES.
3. PRAY THAT THIS UNITY WILL DISPLAY GOD’S LOVE FOR THE WORLD 22-23
THE GLORY IN VS 22 MAY REFER TO THE GLORY OF THE CROSS WHICH WE AS THE CHURCH UNDERSTAND THE MESSAGE OF ATONEMENT FOR SIN THROUGH IT. WE, THEN, BECOME UNITED WITH GOD’S PURPOSES AND HIS PLAN OF REDEMPTION. IT IS THAT GLORY IN WHICH WE SHARE. THIS IS PRAYED ON BEHALF OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT EVEN BELIEVED YET. THEY WILL DO SO LATER ON ACCOUNT OF HIS DISCIPLE’S CONTINUATION OF HIS MINISTRY. ALL OF THIS IS TO INCREASE THE DEPTH AND BREADTH OF OUR UNITY WITH ONE ANOTHER AND WITH CHRIST AND GOD. SOMEBODY HAS TO BECOME INTERESTED IN SPIRITUAL AND ETERNAL ENDS AND SO JESUS PRAYS THAT HIS FOLLOWERS IN THE FUTURE WILL LIVE IN SUCH A WAY THAT THEY CAN SHARE IN WHAT IS IMPORTANT WITH GOD AND CHRIST WHILE IN THE WORLD.
IN VS 23 JESUS NOW REQUESTS THAT THESE PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE ON ACCOUNT OF THE DISCIPLES’ TESTIMONY MAY BE COMPLETED INTO ONE—THAT IS, THAT THE UNION WILL BE CEMENTED BY THE INDWELLING OF CHRIST IN US AS A MEANS OF ALLOWING THIS UNITY TO HAPPEN. WHEN THIS UNITY HAPPENS BETWEEN ONE ANOTHER AND WITH GOD (A) THAT THE WORLD WILL BELIEVE IN THE SON’S DIVINE MISSION—THAT THE FATHER DID SEND CHRIST. HE IS THE ONE. DON’T LOOK AROUND FOR ANOTHER. INTERESTING THAT SATAN’S RELIGIOUS COUNTERFEITS ALL HAVE DIMINISHED SOME ASPECT OF JESUS OR REPLACED HIM WITH ANOTHER FOCUS. JESUS KNEW THAT WOULD HAPPEN AND FOR HIS DISCIPLES AND THEIR DISCIPLES AND OUR Disciples he prays for conviction that Jesus Christ is the only one sent from God. And (b) that the world will sense that God’s love for believers is deep, intimate, and lasting as is His love for His unique Son. It is all about God’s love. The kind of love that characterizes Christ’s disciples is the way God the Father loved the Son, namely, doing the best good for one another, which always results in giving without expecting anything in return. God wants that love on display.
4. PRAY THAT OUR FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST HERE INCREASES IN ETERNITY 24
The communion and fellowship which disciples have with Jesus in this life will increase in eternity. The goal of our salvation is future glorification which includes being with Jesus. In a sense this is Jesus last testament and will—this is what He wants. What he wants is very important and also very fascinating. He wants His disciples and their disciples to enter into His glory—to see it—the glory he had from the Father and would again have. A glory based on the Father’s love for the Son before the foundations of this world were ever laid. Here again the pre-existence of Jesus Christ, His eternality, is mentioned in connection with the relationship he shared with the Father forever. Even now many know this reality. This is what eternal life is—the knowledge of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. There is no other eternal reality.
5. PRAY THAT YOUR DISCIPLES CONTINUE TO GROW IN THE LOVE OF GOD 24-25
This part of the prayer is strongly asserted ‘O righteous Father’. This is a prayer from the gut. Father vs 5; Holy Father vs 11. Jesus is saying that the Father is right. All He has done. All He has commissioned. All He has spoken is right. This is contrasted with the world that is wrong—altho the world has not known you. The world has refused this testimony. Jesus manifested the Father’s name and not everyone liked it. We must be about manifesting the attributes of our heavenly Father—the love of God. It is this love that is to be enjoyed and displayed amongst each other.
1. Discipleship is reproductive. The 11 were not the only ones. And we are not the only ones. There are those who believe in Christ thru His Word in every generation since and to come. We pray for the reproduction to continue in generations to come linked thru the ones we are discipling now—like our kids for instance.
2. Our attention must be on our future while we live today. Not on coping with today as so much of our Christianity focuses (music, how to’s). Jesus waits for us.