Prayer of the High Priest Part 3

Prayer for the Future Glory

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:20-26)

This petition of our Lord is primarily for the Christian believers those who will take up their cross and follow Jesus in the future. It is a prayer for Christian unity among the believers in Jesus Christ. “That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:21-23)

It is important to recognize the difference between unity and uniformity. Unity finds it strength in diversity. Diversity strengthens that core of a unified cause by binging in multiple talents and viewpoints to better discern the opposition to the goal of living a Christ like life for His glory. Diversity is a threat to uniformity and dampens the gift of the creative minds that God has created us to have. The example of this is seen by the disciples that Jesus chose to surround Himself with. The Scripture does not tell us a lot about these men but what we do know is the diversity of their backgrounds.

Simon Peter, James, John, and Andrew were all fisherman around Galilee. (Mark 1:16-20) Matthew was a tax collector who was considered a traitor to the Jews of his day. (Matthew 9:9) One disciple was a Zealot who was determined to overthrow the Roman government who had rule over Palestine. The others must have been tradesmen, craftsmen and possibly farmers. All but one of them was from the area of Galilee and may had known of each other. These twelve formed a diverse group but the following of Jesus was not confined to the twelve disciples only. There were many other men and women who followed Jesus during His ministry. Some our known as Mary Magdalene, Susanna, and Joanna. (Luke 8:1-3) This group of followers of Jesus make up a foundation of the Church to follow. This group was not made up of one race, one gender, or one social class but was diverse. They came from every nation. (Romans 9:23-24; Revelation 7:9-11) They all were radically different in their temperament, personality, and political philosophy. Their diversity and differences made their unity so evident in their cause.

The Apostle Paul teaches that diversity is not opposed to unity to the Church at Corinth in the twelfth chapter of first Corinthians. In fact diversity is essential. Paul compares the body of Christ, His Church, to the human body in which each member is equally important. “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)

The body cannot function if all parts are eyes, ears, feet or hands. So the unity of the body demands diversity. Churches become dysfunctional by their effort to turn out cookie cut Christians. They try to make their members dress alike with dress codes. Think alike by creedal codes that often do not focus on essential doctrines. They are to act alike by codes of conduct and it is distractive to fall into such legalism. This action does not display true unity and promote true spirituality. The teaching becomes conformity and when the body changes so does the creed and conduct. This teaching can cause a problem when the body is immersed into the society of the world, as they have not been taught to discern for themselves but to conform.

The unity of the body of Christ is to be found in union that Christ is found in us.  I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23). The Godhead, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a unity of being. This is the essence of our purpose that as children of God we in faith dwell in God and He is in us. This not only creates a bond between the believer and God but also between one believer and another.

Unity within the Church of Christ is a vital matter. The unity of the Church members is the way in which they are identified in the world that they are to witness in. It is a world where everyone does their own thing where they value an independent spirit held to the current popular standard. They believe they are living in liberty but in truth are slaves to the evil spiritual forces that influence the ways that people around them live. Liberty is found in the Christian community which is unified on purpose and supportive to each other in the bonds of His love.

This prayer of our Lord was prayed not long before He would be lead away to His trial and execution on the cross. On the third day He would be resurrected and then shortly would ascend to the right hand of the Father. Jesus would no longer walk among His people until they are reunited with Him. Jesus now prays for that reunion. “Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold Me; for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

Jesus also prays that He may continue to minister to His own even though He would be physically absent from them. Jesus had revealed His Father to His disciples and they had come to know the Father through the life and ministry of Jesus. The Lord wanted to abide in His own. “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:25-26). This prayer was spoken in the presence of His disciples and was to calm their anxieties and their destresses. We today are still in the world that our Lord asked the Father to protect us from. This then is His prayer for us as well and has been preserved by the Spirit of God that we may also find peace through it.

This prayer that our Lord prayed is an excellent model of the prayer that we should pray on behalf of others. The must selfless thing that we can do is goes to our knees that others may stand. It is a demonstration of the love that we are to have for our neighbor. We are seeking the glory of God no matter the cost or personal suffering that it might bring to us. Obtaining God’s glory will always be for our own good. We are for the love of others petitioning the protection of God not so much from suffering and sorrow but from Satan who is the enemy of all of God’s creation. Satan who is the father of spiritual destruction and the adversary of all mankind. We are seeking a unity among all believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, a hope of salvation for those who do not know Him and have a personal relationship with Him, and the ultimate reunion with our Lord.

While we do not know the precise plan and purpose of God for our life or for others we know that His will shall be done towards our sanctification and unity with the Lord. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

What is the price of our prayers? Willingness and dedication to love the Lord our God with all our might and our neighbor as our self. We may suffer persecution, we may face trial and tribulation but we have the hope of the promise of His Word. Every request that the Lord has made on our behalf He paid the price for on the cross of Calvary. The price He has paid for us is one we could not pay and it will never need to be paid again. “For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” (Hebrews 9:24-28)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, August 17, 2016

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