John 17:20-21 — “‘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.’”
Jesus has one more prayer request in John chapter 17, and this one is not for him or his disciples…it is for you. Or more specifically, “for all those who will believe in me through their message.” Jesus is praying for every believer throughout all time. For every follower of all time, Jesus is asking the Heavenly Father for one thing: that all of them may be one, just as Jesus and the Father are one. The same unity that Jesus desired for his first disciples, is the same unity he desires for his last disciples…for all of his disciples.
Now to be sure, the purpose of this unity is similar to that which he asks for his disciples earlier…it is a unity in the Name of Jesus, and power and protection are the purpose. However, Jesus now discloses a further purpose or benefit of this unity: so that the world may believe. This unity of purpose, in the Name of Jesus, will be a tangible sign for all who do not believe that Jesus is truly “sent” from the Father…a testimony that He is who He claims to be. Many of us have not fully understood the tremendous testimony or witness that our unity in Christ can be. The converse is also true, many of us have not fully understood the horrible devastation our divided witness and testimony has unleashed upon the world. How much more important in our day, in this hour, will it be for unbelievers to see the witness of a united body of believers working together for the Kingdom of God! We must be one!
But this oneness is further spelled out in this passage as well…our oneness is not “in Name only” but we must be one, as Jesus and the Father are one. What does this mean? It means that just as the Father is in Jesus, and Jesus is in the Father…so we must be in them. Jesus said consistently, “I don’t speak on my own. I say only what the Father who sent me has told me to say.” (John 12:49 CEV) When the Father is in him, Jesus doesn’t say what he wants to say, but only what the Father tells him. How does he know what the Father has told him? Because he is in the Father! Jesus is the Word of God, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) But how can we be one with Jesus and the Father?
In verse 23, it tells us, “I in them and you in me…” We can be in the Father, by being in the Son. And if Jesus is the Word, we can be in Jesus by being in His Word! Or more importantly, His Word in us! “I in them” (the Word in us) and “they in me” (through the Holy Spirit). Then how does this Spirit get in us? The people who heard the message (the Word) that Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, were “cut to the heart” (convicted) and asked, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Repent. Turn from your sin and turn to God. Be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ (there is power in the Name of Jesus!). And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. God in you. You in God (in His Word and baptized into Jesus’ Name). There is no greater unity…until we are in unity together in Christ.
Because when we are one as Jesus and the Father, we surrender what we want to what God wants. When we are not surrendered or in disunity, we do as we please. When we are one as Jesus and the Father, we love one another, never daring to speak ill of our brother or sister in Christ. When we are not in unity we blast whoever we like with disparaging words or painful remarks. When we are in unity with Jesus and the Father and one another — we love like God loved us and we surrender our lives to show that love to the world. And when they see this unity, all people will be drawn to Father through His Son Jesus Christ. Amen!
Lord, forgive us for not being in unity. We are so desirous that all people come to You, and You tell us that happens — through our unity. Father make us one, as You and the Son are one. Help us in our infirmities, we are so weak in our flesh. Help us to be filled with Your Spirit and to walk as Jesus walked. Thank You for Your promises — that You will complete what You have started in us, and we will accomplish that with which You have tasked us to do, in Your power and strength. We love You Father, and we thank You for Your Son Jesus. Amen.