In the moment, the disciples, hearing their teacher pray, could not possibly have realized the impact these next few sentences would make. Perhaps that is what overwhelms me so. Knowing what lay just ahead, knowing they were coming to arrest him, he still made it a point of his prayer:
Jesus prayed for me.
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—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.John 17:20-23 (NIV)
I don’t hesitate to take this personally, because I am one of those who did come to believe in him through the message of others. Though not the original disciples, they were still disciples of Christ, carrying on the mission of witnessing to a lost and dying world. I’m a recipient of their message—The message of truth and hope.
If you too have come to believe in Christ, he prayed for you. He prayed for us and those in ages past who believed and in ages to come, who have yet to put their trust in him. What an awesome claim to make: Jesus prayed for me!
What does he want most of all on our behalf? What is so important to make it a point of prayer to the Father?
Our unity—unity in Christ and unity with other believers.
Why is our unity so important? Because it’s the billboard to a fractured world that God loved them so much, he sent Jesus to die in their place.
Our witness for Christ is strongest when we as believers are unified in him and for him. In his time of growing anguish, he made the effort to lay a specific request before the Throne of Grace just for me, just for you.
The question is: Is his request being answered in my life, or am I, in my selfishness, putting up barriers to unity in my relationship with Jesus and with other believers?
As we confess our sins before him today, will we join our voices with his?
Father, make us one, as you are one, that the world might know Christ and the price you paid out of the love you have for them.
Grace and Peace