My next few posts are taken from a sermon my husband recently gave. They deal with what is called “the high priestly prayer” of Jesus which is found in John:17. He is praying here for His disciples, knowing that He will soon be crucified.
“ I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[b] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by[c] that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth.
In verse 11 Jesus askes the Father to keep His disciples safe by keeping them in His Name, that they may be one, even as Jesus and His Father are one. Later on the Lord expands that by asking not only that His disciples would be one, but that all of us who come to faith through their witness might also be one.
It is notable that Jesus refers to the oneness He shares with the Father, and also with the Spirit. The Lord prayed to the Father, so He understood that which was different about them, but He also notes that they are perfectly united one to the other and therefore they were indeed one Holy Being. And then He asks that we might have such a unity even though we too are different from one another. Different, but still one.
However, Jesus speaks of something else that we can’t separate from our oneness in Christ–He speaks also of Truth (see verse 17). So, unity among Christians can only be a unity based on God’s Truth. And what does Jesus say is the truth? God’s Word. The Word we have received from His is the basis for our unity in Christ. No other forms, or structures, or common names, or titles can take the place of God’s Word in determining what is appropriate Christian unity. Full acceptance of the Word of God is the unifier of true Christians.
More tomorrow …..
For more about God’s Word see: