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John 17:20-21, NIV 20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you."
January 25, 2010
Jesus prayed for me, and for all who will one day hear about him and believe that he was sent from God. He prayed that these believers will share the same oneness and closeness that Jesus experienced with his Father!
I'm tempted to be cynical and say, "That will never happen." Christians have a terrible record when it comes to showing a united front. For Jesus to pray that we would be just as close to each other and love each other as he loved his Father--well, he must have been dreaming.
Yet this was his prayer. And unfortunately his prayer has not been answered as we think of prayers being answered. Jesus was able to resist temptation, cure the sick, give sight to the blind, and even raise the dead; but he hasn't been able to make us love and care for each other as he and his Father did.
Maybe we don't want to love and care for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of us are as different as night and day. It's much easier to criticize, fight over our doctrines, distrust and ridicule, than it is to love.
On this his last evening on earth, hours and maybe even minutes before the events of his arrest would take place, Jesus voiced his hopes in prayer to his Father. He wanted for his followers the same unique relationship he had shared with the One who sent him.
But this is earth, not heaven, and we have failed him big time. It was his parting desire that we live in love, and far too many of those who claim his name have not lived up to the high standard Jesus set for us. We have not even come close.
Jesus taught us to pray--forgive us our sins/debts/trespasses--so when we don't know what sin to confess, we can always consider our failure to live up to the great desire Jesus had for us, namely that we should love one another as he and his Father loved each other. That should give us plenty of "fodder."
Jesus described what he meant when he talked about being one. Here's the example he gave: "Just as you (God) are in me (Jesus) and I am in you." Sometimes at a wedding we hear that the bride and groom have become one. There are those who chaff at that thought because individuality is so important and should not be snuffed out. These people do not like the symbolism of the unity candle where two lights become one.
It is love that binds us together, just as it is love that frees us to be who we truly are. It's not a marriage license or a birth certificate that makes us one. Nor the words of blessing spoken on our behalf.
In all of the relationships we cherish most, we do become a part of each other. We hold our loved ones in our heart. We are in them; they are in us. Then the question becomes--What does Jesus' imagery of oneness mean for the Church today? How do we build a relationship of love with other believers?
John 17:21-23, NIV"May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
January 26, 2012
Jesus explains why it is so important that his followers be one. It is so that the world may believe. Love within a congregation can be seen and felt. It is a drawing card, and clear evidence that these people have spent time with Jesus, heard what he said and have made an effort to put his words into daily practice.
Then Jesus linked oneness with the glory God gave to him and which he has passed along to his disciples. Glory--making someone beautiful in another person's eyes. Love can make anyone beautiful in our eyes.
Are we made beautiful by God's glory? Jesus draws a circle. God in Jesus. Jesus in his disciples. The disciples in unity with each other through the glory given by the Father. God's love makes us beautiful; our love for God makes God beautiful in the eyes of others.
If we cooperated in making this dream, this prayer of Jesus, come true, the world would know Jesus came from God and that God loves them even as he loved Jesus. People would come to know the love of God, a love for people on earth as strong as the love God had for Jesus.
Jesus is saying if Christians lived in complete unity the world would look a lot more like heaven than hell. Imagine people actually living by the teachings of Jesus. Visualize a newspaper reporting on a multitude of people living by the Golden Rule--Do onto others as you would likethem to do to you. Those words are a game changer. We can make our area of influence beautiful through love, one person at a time. It was Jesus' parting prayer for his disciples, then and now.
John 17:24, NIV24 "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world."
January 27, 2012
"I want them to be with me"--This is also a love statement. Jesus wanted those who loved him to be able to see what he can see. And what could Jesus see? You guessed it. Glory. The love gift from God before the creation of the world.
If you ever wished you could pass your own knowledge and experience on to someone else, then you catch a glimpse of what Jesus was praying for those he was leaving behind. He didn't really want to leave them, yet he really did want to return to his Father in heaven. Two roads; he could not take them both. But he wished his disciples would see the glory of God as he, Jesus, had seen it.
Again glory is used in the same sentence as the word, love. Love at creation. Soon it will be love on the cross.
This is a prayer of Jesus. For whom does a person pray? Usually for those who are close to their heart. So we might infer from this prayer that we as disciples of Jesus are dear to his heart. What does a person pray for? For things most important to them. Jesus prayed for us to experience the same oneness he had with his Father. He wanted us to live our lives in love for one another. Where are we todo this? In our daily lives, in our life together as a community of believers, in the world we live in but are not akin to because we belong to God. When? The time is always now for us to allow our love for Jesus to spring up like a well within us that overflows in all directions, multiplying as it goes. Why? To bring glory to God with the result that "the world" may believe.
John 17:25-26, NIV25 "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."
January 28, 2012
This prayer of Jesus will only be answered as those of us who believe in Jesus stop criticizing and fighting within the ranks and start loving each other. Loving as Jesus and his Father loved each other. A holy unity. That's the model Jesus has set for us!
We are the ones responsible for answering Jesus' prayer. Yet again it is up to us, in the same way as it is when we pray for peace and for "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Our collective actions or inactions determine the climate in which we live. We can't continue tearing others down and expect God to hand us peace. If we want to bring God glory and entice "the world" to believe, we must stop, turn around and follow the directions of our Lord. In Biblical jargon that's called repentance.
Matthew in his gospel quoted Jesus as saying. "Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works, and glorify our Father who is in heaven."