JOHN:The Book Of Heartfelt Belief
Jesus Prays For Us
Jerry A. Collins
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. Jesus Prays for The Unity of His Church
FAITH There is only one means by which a person is part of this church and it is those who believe in me. So you do not join this church by signing a membership form or attending church services regularly, or going thru baptism, confirmation or any other rituals. These things have nothing to do with membership in the body of Christ. Jesus tells us there is only one way, by means of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ Himself.
WITNESS 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. Jesus underscores the point that these men are His chosen messengers, his chosen means of expressing himself to us. They knew Him. To reject their witness is to reject Jesus Christ. There is only one Jesus and He is the Jesus of the apostles. We may be presented with many different kinds of Jesuses. Like the superstar, the pale galilean, Mormons Jesus brother of Satan, or Jesus the created Jesus of Jw’s or the lessor prophet Jesus of Islam or the Jesus we can all become of New Age. Jesus makes it very clear that he prefers the word of ‘these’ as His witness.
UNITY Three times Jesus prays for the unity of the church (21-23). There are gradual stages of growth here. What is the nature of this unity Jesus prays for?
(1) A Unity of Shared Truth vs 21
"These" and "Those" Jesus now says are all to be joined together that they may be one. The unity of the church is a unity with the apostles. Since the primary task of these apostles was to give us the truth about Jesus this unity we have is a unity of shared truth. One faith delivered to the saints, one record about Jesus, one set of beliefs about him. We are tied to the apostles this way. Ephesians 2:20 says the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, in the sense of their witness to the historic Jesus. We do not have different standards of truth but one standard. We share this truth together from the Word of God. So are unity is not established by focusing on each other but a oneness established by each one focusing on the truth as given to us by the apostles.
(2) A Unity of Shared power vs 22. The church is united when it operates from the same resource and by the same direction which is by the same power Jesus acted. Jesus always worked from His relationship with His Father not contrary to it. The church should not adopt the same means of functioning that the world does. While the world operates by organizational techniques, mobilizing human resources, marshaling fund raising efforts as if these could accomplish what God wants accomplished. But when the church remembers it has unique power, the power of the living God in the lives of His people, the resources associated with His name, and the Word of God to guide and direct us there is a glory in the church that no organization can rival. This is the kind of glory Jesus prays will become visible.
(3) A Unity of Shared Life vs 23.
Just as the Father and the Son share life so all believers share the same life, the life of the Son in us. That is what makes us brothers and sisters wherever we are in the world. This is not some outward union. There have been many attempts to bring all churches together in one great organization but our Lord is referring to a spiritual union of life enjoyed in relationship with Him by faith. We belong to one another because we share the same life together. While traveling and meeting people totally different backgrounds and cultures, the minute we meet we know we are brothers and sisters because we share that inward life. This sharing of truth, power, and life creates the oneness Jesus desires.
PURPOSE What is this unity all about? Why does it exist?
(1) So the world may believe that Jesus has come from God vs 21. When the church demonstrates this unity of faith, power and life the world will be impressed that Jesus is Lord. That He is the revelation of the invisible God. That does not mean the world will accept this. The purpose is not to convince everybody but to give them a basis upon which they may decide. Many will decide and accept the witness. So evangelism gives the world around us a chance to make an informed choice whether to accept or reject Jesus by presenting to the world a unity of truth, power and life in the church. So the reason for our witness before the world is that they may believe that Jesus has come from God.
(2) So that the world may know
that we are loved by God as much as Jesus is loved by God vs 23. Everyone wants to be loved. The church thru its unity can show the way to the love many seek after.
2. Jesus Prays for The Vision of the Church 24-26
Here is a prayer for the church to be with him. Of course this is the promise of God’s Word to us (1 Th 4:16-17). To be with Him in heaven is our ultimate destiny.
PURPOSE So that we can behold His glory. That means that we shall be like Him when we see him as he is (1 Jn 3:2). We will behold it in the sense that we will experience it in heaven. We will be changed forever. Even now we can experience that transformation of being more like Him (Rom 12:1-2). INTIMACY 25-26 This intimacy begins with a recognition of Jesus as sent from God. Then it develops as awareness grows of the Fathers power and love his name known. It finds its deepest expression in a growing consciousness of the presence of Christ within us I in them. A hope of glory in the future, a present availability of that glory to us now, so that we may manifest a unity of love among ourselves which will cause a waiting world to know tho might not want to admit that Jesus is Lord and that God loves us just as he does the Son.