John 17:20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 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.
Father I ask that your word which I proclaim today will enlighten your people and bring them to greater unity by your Holy Spirit. Father I thank you for the privilege of preaching your word and I ask for your anointing in Jesus name.
1. Have you ever considered what it would be like if there were perfect unity in your family - in your church - in your community? Would everyone dress the same? Have the same haircut? Would they all be in complete agreement in all things - and hopefully with you? Would everyone have the same job and do it in exactly the same way? If this were the case what a dull world this would be and nothing would get done.
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary has a lengthy definition for unity which includes the following:
Unity - A condition of harmony - a totality of related parts - being in accord.
Accord - To exhibit perfect fitness in a relationship or association - balanced interrelationship - harmony.
2. Unity is not conformity In 1 Corinthians 12 - Paul teaches about spiritual gifts - how each of us in the Body of Christ has been created - unique - different - for a purpose. He then goes on to describe various parts of the human body and in verses 24 - 27 says, But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
I am a biochemist and spent years of my life studying the human body. Every cell has a specific purpose. In the book “When the Heavens are Brass” John Kilpatrick (Brownsville Assembly of God) gives the following illustration of “healthy” cells, “out of place” cells and “malignant destroyer” cells.
A healthy cell - has DNA which provides all the instructions it needs, consumes energy, occupies space, and performs a specific task in perfect harmony with neighboring cells. These cells function together to form the brain, heart , liver , kidneys and other useful organs. They are in unity and in one accord.
Out of place cells - have the same DNA instructions but they have either missed out on the directions or just ignored them. Like healthy cells they too consume energy and occupy space, but they don’t seem to belong anywhere, and they don’t perform any functions or useful work in the body. These cells gather together to form moles, benign tumors, or other non-functional structures. They just use up energy and take up space.
(If you are beginning to feel uncomfortable, you are beginning to see just how closely this describes much of the Body of Christ)
Finally, there are the “malignant destroyer” cells. Their DNA has been damaged or altered. These cells consume energy at an elevated rate. They often occupy too much space since they tend to multiply rapidly and encroach on nearby cells and organs disrupting their function. The most dangerous aspect of these cells is that they are greedy, demanding, unscrupulous, and merciless in their constant drive to satisfy their raging hunger. If left unchecked they will ultimately consume their own life and the life of their host.
The healthy cells represent unity - working together in one accord. The out of place cells represent complacency - satisfaction accompanied by unawareness.
The malignant destroyer cells represent - disunity and disaccord - with an objective to get what they want whatever the consequences. Does this example remind you in any way of your family, your church, your community, your world?
Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Staying together is progress. Working together is success.”
The blessing of unity in the body of Christ is not merely an option which God has given us - it is a mandate - a command. It was Jesus’ last prayer for us in John 17: 20-23.
If you knew you were going to die in the next few days - what would be your prayer?
In only a few hours Jesus would be arrested. A terrible death would follow. With death breathing down His neck, it was unity in the Body that occupied the mind of Christ.
MAIN DIVISIONS AND SUBDIVISIONS
I. FOR WHOM DID JESUS PRAY?
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, ...”
a. Jesus prayer was not only for those he knew and walked with - His disciples and followers - it was also for those who would believe in Him through their message. Guess who that includes ---YOU and I.
Notice - He was not praying for the world but He was praying for those “who would believe in Him. Mark 16:16 says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned”.
b. Believing is a choice we must make if we are to have eternal life - choose to believe.
Jesus prayed for all who believe in Him. I have to believe that He was convinced that what He prayed for was of the greatest importance. You know what - it would be my guess that He probably prayed first that the Father would reveal to Him what it was he was to pray for. What a great idea!!
II. WHAT DID JESUS PRAY FOR?
a. “...that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us...”
b. He prayed that we all be one and then He specified how that was to be - ...Just as He and the Father are one. We could write books on how Jesus and the Father are one but for today let’s summarize a few relevant scriptures: From Eph. 4:1-5:
1. Live a life worthy of the calling you have received - united with Christ
2. Be completely humble and gentle;
3. Be patient, bearing with one another in love
4. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace
5. Have one hope; one Lord; one faith; one baptism; one God From 1Pet. 3:8-11
1. Live in harmony with one another
2. Be sympathetic
3. Love as brothers, be compassionate and humble
4. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing
5. Seek peace and pursue it.
From Phil. 2:1-4
1. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit
2. In humility consider others better than yourselves
3. Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Jesus prayed for all who believe in Him. He prayed that we might be one even as He and the Father are one ... AND ...you know what - he provided all that we need to achieve the goal. Have you ever considered that all that we have, all that we are, all that we achieve is not of ourselves - BUT - all has been given to us by an awesome God. Praise God - He is sufficient!! We can take credit for nothing.
Zech. 4:6 “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty”
III. HOW DID JESUS PREPARE US TO BE ONE?
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one...”
a. He gave us the same GLORY that the Father had given Him!
b. What might that “glory” be? Glory is defined in Webster’s as “ Praise, honor or distinction extended by common consent”.
Eph. 1:5 - he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will
Rom. 8:17 - Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
John 14:26 - But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
c. Through His life, death and resurrection He REDEEMED US, JUSTIFIED US, SANCTIFIED US, AND GAVE US ETERNAL LIVE. He has made us a legal part of His family. We are sons and daughters of the most high God - and joint heirs with Christ Jesus.
d. He has provided all that we need to be in unity we need to believe it - apprehend it claim it and declare that it is ours by faith.
Jesus prayed for all who believe in Him. He prayed that we might be one even as He and the Father are one. He gave us His glory. Finally, He had a purpose for His prayer. Oh - consider the purpose. What an impact it could have on your family, on your church, on your community, on our world!
IV. WHY DID JESUS PRAY THIS PRAYER?
“…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”.
a. He prayed that the world would know that He was sent by the Father and that the world would know that we are loved by the Father by our unity.
b. Does that sound to you like - maybe - somehow by our example - by how we live - by how we relate to our wives, children, family, friends, business associates, strangers - that we might be His ambassadors, His witnesses, His living message. ARE YOU!
c. Is it possible that we are the means God has chosen to let the world know that Jesus was sent by Him to show His love - that all may be saved and know eternal life.
d. I would like to paraphrase a portion of scripture that Paul wrote to the Jews in Rome.
Rom. 2:17 "Now you, if you call yourself a follower of Christ; if you rely on His grace and your inheritance as a son or daughter of the most high God and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the Holy Spirit; if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, the salt of the earth, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have the Holy Spirit and therefore the embodiment of knowledge and truth — you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about grace, do you dishonor God by being disobedient? You who call yourselves chosen and set apart are you one even as Jesus and the Father are one? Do you live in unity with one another that the world might know that Jesus was sent by the Father? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the unbeliever because of you.”
Brothers and sisters let us begin now to be in that perfect unity that Jesus prayed for us. Begin now to fellowship with one another to care for one another to bear one another’s burdens to study God’s word together - have a member of the body over for dinner get to know them mow their lawn when they are on vacation…..
Jesus prayed only hours before His agonizing death on the cross that:
1. We who believe might be one even as He and the Father are one.
2. We may be brought to complete unity to let the world know that He was sent by the Father and that the Father loves us even as He loved Jesus.
Consider this day in your heart - if a stranger were to walk into your home, church, office, or meet you on the street would they say - you and the Father are one
would they say - see how they love one another
would they say “ I don’t know what they got but I want it”. Are you different enough to be picked out as a redeemed, justified, sanctified, child of the most high God. If not - why not.
Ps. 133:0 Psalm 133 A song of ascents. Of David.
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.