July 24 – United: Church – John 17

Read John 17:20-26

Here in John 17, we have opportunity to eavesdrop on what may be the most intimate recorded words that Jesus ever prayed. Jesus and the disciples had just left a meal, the backdrop for the very celebration of the first Communion with the disciples. Somewhere between the Upper Room and the Garden of Gethsemane where He would both pray and be betrayed, Jesus lifted His gaze to heaven and voiced these heartfelt words.

Even though it wasn’t part of the reading, it is moving to see what Jesus prayed for in this chapter/prayer.

  • In verses 1-5, He longed for reunion with the Father, praying for Himself asking the Father to glorify Him.
  • In verses 6-19, He prayed for His disciples that they might be protected by God and set apart in truth as they lived as His representatives in the world.
  • But verses 20-26 are our focus today. Here, Jesus prayed for us. We are among those who have believed the apostolic message that has reached all the way to us (v. 20). What is it, then, that Jesus prayed for as He paused at that critical point in His life and thought about you and me? He prayed for the very thing that we have been learning about in our current sermon series. He prayed that we would be “united.” Repeatedly, He uses the word “one.” He wants us to experience the same kind of loving unity that He experiences with the Father.

As we have seen this week, this unity He prayed for comes from being part of the same body with Christ as the head (Eph. 4:15, 16). It is a unity that is experienced as each person exercises her/his spiritual gift (1 Cor. 12:12-31). It is a unity involving a common set of beliefs (Eph. 4:14-16). It is a unity grounded in love (1 Cor. 13:1-13) and expressed in gospel purpose (Phil. 1:5).

Why was our unity so important to Jesus that He would pray for us 2000 years ago? Unity is important for more than just the fact that life is easier when people are united. He prayed for unity in the church for the sake of the unbelieving world. Unity in the church serves as a convincing evidence of Christ’s identity as One sent from God (vv. 21, 23).

Are you contributing to the unity of Grace Church? Are you “all in” with others and with our mission? There is much at stake!

Steve Kern

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