John 17: 20-23 (MsgB)
“I’m praying not only for them but also for those who will believe in Me, because of them and their witness about Me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind— Just as you, Father, are in Me and I in You, so they might be one heart and mind with Us. Then the world might believe that You, in fact, sent Me. The same glory You gave Me, I gave them, so they’ll be as unified and together as We are— I in them and You in Me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that You’ve sent Me and loved them in the same way You’ve loved Me.”
John 17 might just be the most unique chapter of the entire New Testament.
Here we find the Great Rabbi, the Master Teacher, the One and Only Son of God, God’s Messiah, the Incarnate God praying a personal prayer to His Father.
The Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Door of the Sheep, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection, the Way, the Truth, the Life, and the True Vine is speaking intimately with His Abba Father.
Not teaching us how to pray. Not modeling a new way for us to talk to God. Not pointing out a new truth. Not instructing His disciples on some new insight from heaven.
Here, Jesus is just talking to His Dad, pouring out His heart as He comes to the end of His three-year ministry here on earth.
We won’t take the time here in this blog series to unpack all twenty-six verses of John 17. Maybe that’s for another blog series on another day. But we do sense the great need to bring verses 20-23 to our attention.
Because these four unique verses from John’s Gospel contain Jesus’ personalized prayers for you and me. Crafted for men and women who, from Jesus’ perspective, will live in some future time, some far-away place, some distant nation, so far removed from the original story that they will be tempted to live out their Christianity in ways so removed from the original recipe that the world just might miss the original intent of what Jesus was all about.
Scary, isn’t it.
You and I live two thousand years after the original Jesus story lived itself out on planet earth. Here we are, two millennia later, attempting to keep the faith alive by our own strength and wisdom. We pull out our theological books and our doctrinal statements; combine them with our business books and church growth material and wonder why the Christian faith seems so lackluster in our generation.
Could it be that we are missing the content of what Jesus prayed for? Could it be that we are dotting I’s and crossing T’s when it comes to correct doctrine but failing to live lives that are filled with the mature oneness Jesus refers to here in His prayer to Abba?
I wonder what might happen if we Christians dropped a lot of our big agendas for saving the world with our human-conceived ministries and simply began loving one another in the mature oneness Jesus is asking for when He’s talking so passionately about us to His Father?
In a world where we Christians leave churches at the drop of a hat; post ugly words about other brothers and sisters in Christ on Facebook; and publish websites that defame other ministries that are different from our own; a little mature oneness sure sounds refreshing right now. Don’t you think?
My prayer: Lord, forgive me when I live a Christian life that strays outside the boundaries of Your passionate prayers for me. As I see it, You’re looking for me to live in mature oneness with You and with my brothers and sisters in Christ. If I read Your prayer carefully, apparently as I do just that, the world around us will look at our lives of peace and oneness and discover true evidence that You are who You say You are. Holy Spirit, I choose today to submit to Jesus’ prayers for me today. For Your name’s sake.
My questions to ponder: Could it be that the world is having such a hard time believing in the claims of Christ because they see such immature division amongst the people of the church? If mature oneness is the core of Jesus’ prayer for me, what practical steps do I need to take to be an answer (rather than a curse) to His prayer?
So what is God speaking to you today? Are you practicing the Kingdom presence of God?
Pastors…plan now to join us for our first SMALL GROUP RETREAT for BUSY, 3-B PASTORS. August 17-18 in Cedar Rapids. Click here for more details.