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Summary: Christ in us, the hope of glory.

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THE PRAYER OF JESUS - Part 3

John 17:20-26

In order that His disciples might be sanctified, Jesus gave them the Word (John 17:14). This Word was to be the means of bringing others to the faith (John 17:20). So Jesus prayed for those who would hear the gospel from them - including their contemporaries, and those who inherit their legacy through the writings of the New Testament.

It is not inappropriate to pray for our children, and our grandchildren, and those who are bound with us in the covenant of God’s love. We may also pray for those that are afar off, remote from the Gospel on account of geography or circumstance (Acts 2:39). We may even pray for generations yet unborn.

Jesus prayed that the eleven Apostles would be “kept” in the type of unity which reflects the oneness of the Godhead (John 17:11). He prayed similarly for unity amongst those who would follow them (John 17:21). We cannot, however, expect to be “kept” in our Christian faith if we deny the truth of the Word of God; nor may we base our unity on anything that compromises its teaching.

Despite all appearances to the contrary, we need not doubt that this prayer has been answered. There is an organic unity between Christians, from every culture, denomination, and walk of life. This is reflected in the fellowship and hospitality which born-again believers find amongst those of the same faith wherever they may go in the world.

There is an evangelical unity which needs to be manifested in our lives “that the world may believe” (John 17:21). Ecclesiastical disharmony lends an excuse to those who choose to reject the gospel - and so does uniformity without love. We need to nurture our love, one for the other (John 13:34-35), in order to bear a credible testimony to those around us.

Jesus says that He has given us His glory (John 17:22). Is He speaking in the prophetic future, as He did earlier in this chapter (John 17:4; John 17:11; John 17:13)? Certainly we find ourselves being changed “from glory into glory” by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).

When Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection He spoke of sending them forth to preach the gospel, breathed upon them, and said “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:21-22). The present tense used there may be viewed prophetically, for He also said, “Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). The “Spirit of glory” (1 Peter 4:14) is the same Spirit who makes possible our endeavours to keep the unity in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).

There is a community of the Father and the Son within the Godhead (John 17:23): we are drawn by the Spirit into that Oneness. We have no relationship with the Father without the Son, because “there is no other name under heaven given among men by whom we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). As each is perfected in love, so our unity is there for all to see.


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