BRP Insight Post for Week of April 29, 2019:
John 17 is one of my very favorite chapters in the Bible. In it, Jesus prays for Himself, for His disciples, and for those of us who are Christ followers because of the work the disciples did in spreading the good news of Jesus. Jesus is fully aware that He is heading to the cross, but His prayer for Himself is not that God would make the ordeal less painful or horrific (definitely what my prayer would be!) but that God would glorify Him through His obedience, ultimately bringing glory to God Himself. How He could possibly think about anyone else at that time is amazing to me, but He did.
Jesus loved the twelve men He had chosen to pour Himself into, including Judas who betrayed Him. He lived with them, He shared times of joy and sorrow with them, and He taught them. How deeply Judas’ betrayal must have hurt! They were the plan for spreading the message of rescue to the entire world. They were on His heart and He asked God to look after them and the precious message they carried. He prayed that His joy, in full measure, would be in them. He prayed for their protection from the evil one and for their sanctification by the truth. In religious terms, to sanctify is to be made holy or set apart for a holy purpose, but in more generic terms, it means “the state of proper functioning”, in other words, the use intended by the designer (see Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology). The process of sanctification in our lives is to get us back to our original design, who God created us to be.
Jesus moves on in His prayer to pray for you and me, people who have become Christ followers through the ages. I’m so intrigued by the fact that out of all the things He could choose to focus on in His prayer for believers – courage, boldness, protection, etc. – He prayed for UNITY.
20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. 22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. 24 Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began! (emphasis added)
It only takes a few minutes on Twitter to see how our lack of unity as believers gets played out in front of a watching world who is disgusted by the difference between what we profess to believe and what comes out of our mouths and our actions. Those of us who are Christ followers have the opportunity to be the answer to Jesus’ prayer by treating others with gentleness and respect, even when we disagree. We are to be a people known for what and how we love, not for our hate. That has implications in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our church, and beyond.
Executive Director of Education and Outreach