Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Jesus prays for unity

John 17:1 -- "These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father..."

A couple of months ago, a post on David Rogers' "Love Each Stone" blog for some reason brought with force to my mind that a prayer of Jesus to His Father must certainly be answered, and that perhaps sometimes we operate as if it is not being or will not be. How often do we stress that Jesus prayed for unity and we are not achieving it? What are the implications of John 17 being a prayer of our Lord Jesus TO God the Father? Jesus is the "prayer-asker" and not us. God is the "prayer-answerer" and not us. Is God not answering this prayer? Or is He answering it and we don't see it? Perhaps we don't even know what the answer looks like?

A few thoughts I get from the prayer regarding oneness or unity are:

1) Jesus is not praying for the world, so therefore both the unbeliever and nominal "Christian" (in name only) is excluded.
John 17:9 - "...I pray not for the world..."
2) Jesus is praying for His own, and therefore all who are His own are included.
John 17:9 - "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine."
3) Jesus' prayer includes His children living at that time and those yet to come. This unity must have a spiritual element that has nothing to do with visible unity (seeing some of these aren't even alive at the same time).
John 17:20 - "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word"
4) Jesus' prayer includes a unity whose reality the world recognizes. There must be some kind of visible or tangible element to this prayed-for unity, because in some way by it the world knows Jesus is the sent one of God.
John 17:23 - "...that the world may know that thou hast sent me..."

So this is a prayer that excludes all unbelievers, includes all believers, brings about a unity of believers even across time that is a tangible testimony to the world of Jesus the Christ. That I see. I suppose what I don't see is just what kind of unity fills all that bill.

Does anyone have any thoughts on what kind of unity fulfills the answered prayer of God the Son TO God the Father?

Verses from John 17:
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

PSALM 133 C. M. Brotherly love.

Lo! what an entertaining sight
Are brethren that agree!
Brethren whose cheerful hearts unite
In bonds of unity!

When streams of love from Christ the Spring,
Descend to every soul,
And heav'nly peace with balmy wing,
Shades and bedews the whole;

'Tis like the oil, divinely sweet,
On Aaron's priestly head;
The trickling drops perfumed his feet,
And o'er his garments spread.

'Tis pleasant as the morning dews
That fall on Zion's hill,
Where God His mildest glory shows,
And makes His grace distill.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) The Psalms of David, 1719.

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