Summary: We will see how Jesus prayed for future believers. These are those who would believe in Him from that moment to the end of the world. What He prayed is a precious thing for believers, but it is also an indictment against believers of every generation.
We are in the third segment of Jesus’ prayer in John 17. He first prayed for Himself, then He prayed for the disciples. Tonight we will see how Jesus prayed for future believers. These are those who would believe in Him from that moment to the end of the world. What He prayed is a precious thing for believers, but it is also an indictment against believers of every generation.
READ v. 20. He prays not only for the disciples, but for all those future believers—that is, for all those who would believe the message of the early disciples. Jesus prayed for us—for you and me—for all of us who believe today. Think of the fact that Jesus prayed for every one of us. We always feel good when someone says they prayed for us. But there’s no thought more precious than the thought that Jesus prayed for us.
Note the three essentials for people to become believers mentioned in this verse.
1) There is the messenger of God, the disciple of Christ, the person who proclaims the Word so that men can believe in the name of Jesus. There has to be a messenger to carry and proclaim the message.
2) There is God’s Word. The messenger is God’s messenger. So the Word he takes to the world is God’s Word.
3) There is belief. We have to believe the Word. We are the Lord’s disciples today because we believe the Word.
READ 21-22. Here’s Jesus’ prayer for us. First, He requested that we may be one. This is critical. Unity must exist between believers. It’s the central theme of Jesus’ prayer. Believers must be one. Let’s look at what Jesus said.
1. The standard or the example of oneness is the oneness between Jesus and His Father. Believers are to be one just as the Father and Jesus are one. The same kind of unity they have is to be the unity that exists between us.
2. The purpose for unity is that the world may believer that the Father sent Jesus. God sent Jesus. Jesus came that men might have life and have it more abundantly. A divided witness confuses the issue and can’t stand. There are not MANY messages nor MANY ways to God. There is only one message and one way.
So believers have to be unified; of one spirit and mind in proclaiming the central message of the gospel. How sad it is that today there are many messages being preached and taught that we can gain salvation by works, or ritual, being good, following the rules, or belonging to a certain denomination.
3. The source of unity is God’s glory, the very glory that Jesus had. It’s the glory of God given to believers that unites believers and makes them one with Jesus and His Father and one with each other. When someone truly experiences the glory of God, they become one in being. They unite to help each other to be the new creature God has made them, to live as new creatures should and to proclaim the message that God has sent His Son into the world.
What do I mean by the believer is given the glory of God? The glory of Christ is the glory of righteousness which He secured by living a perfect life. The glory of the believer is the glory of righteousness which Christ gives to the believer by faith.
READ 23. The second thing that Jesus prayed for is that believers be perfected in unity. This stresses again that believers have to live in unity. The whole world has not been reached for Christ yet. Millions are still lost because believers haven’t been unified enough to penetrate the world with the gospel. The problem isn’t God. The problem is the believers and their love, or lack of love, for one another.
Jesus breaks it down for us. The believer’s source of unity is the indwelling presence of Christ within his life. In other words, when we accept Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. He’s the same HS that is in you as it is in me. That unites us. We have something in common. God is IN Christ so the presence of Christ in the believer means that God dwells IN the believer. So the believer takes on the divine nature of God.
The purpose for perfected unity, which Jesus prayed for, is that the world may know that God sent Jesus into the world to save it. If we look closely, we will see that there is a difference each time Jesus prays for unity in this chapter. And each difference proclaims a strong message to the believer. There is…
• The unity of God’s name, of calling upon God’s name to keep believers from a divided world.