Summary: Jesus prayed for those who would follow Him in generations down the road. He prays for us to be unified, and it should be our pursuit to promote Christian unity and to point to Him and His Glory through our lives.
Originally given at Glorious King Jesus Christian Church, 12/12/10
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13
1 Corinthians 1:10-13 (NKJV)
10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you.
12 Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ."
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Tonight, we have a shorter message, but the passage is powerful. We will take some time tonight to study the composition and historical reliability of the biblical texts, but first, we will continue in our study of who Jesus is in John's Gospel.
A few weeks ago, we took a look at Thanksgiving, and the importance of a life lived in thanksgiving to God. In commemoration of the Thanksgiving holiday, we also looked at the bravery of the Pilgrims in sailing to the 'New World' to seek out greater freedom to worship the Lord. These people were one in purpose, risking everything to follow what they perceived as the Lord's direction. "In God We Trust" has been on quarters since 1908. We have been one nation united and 'Under God' in the past. The phrase, "In God we Trust, United we Stand" is on the 9/11 Memorial.
Our nation has been united through hardship undergone -- whether it relates to freedom, to war, to financial crisis, or even to terrorist acts. Many Americans are quite nationalistic, and they have no problem unifying for the cause of America. Tonight, as we look at John 17, we have a greater call to have complete unity for the cause of Jesus, and we will see that the Lord Jesus prayed for this very thing the night before He was Crucified!
Regarding this prayer, reformer Philip Melancthon wrote, "There is no voice which has ever been heard, either in heaven or in earth, more exalted, more holy, more fruitful, more sublime, than this prayer offered up by the Son of God himself." (Melancthon)
In His prayer, which many refer to as the 'High Priestly Prayer':
- Jesus first prays for Himself and God's Will to be done in verses 1-5.
- Jesus then prays for His disciples and those who were followers of Him at the time in verses 6-19.
- Jesus finally prays for those who will believe in the future in verses 20-26.
We will focus on the third section of His prayer tonight, from John 17:20-26, so please turn and we will read this section of God's Word.
John 17:20-26 (NKJV)
20 " I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;
21 "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
22 "And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:
23 "I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
24 "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
25 "O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.
26 "And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."
Before we continue, let's pray.
You may remember that Paul mentioned to the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 1) that they were to be unified in following after Christ and not some other individual -- neither Paul, Apollos, or whomever. It is awfully easy for people to 'latch on' to individuals. This is good to the level of imitation if the person is living a godly life and pointing to Christ, but we are never to follow after a man. It is also very easy for people to detect small differences in belief and critically shun others who are not exactly in the same field on everything. While we need to be firm on the essentials, we need to be flexible with the non-essentials. Jesus prayed for our Unity -- we need to follow Him, and we need to greet brothers who are truly following Him with the 'right hand of fellowship.'