Summary: This is Christ’s last prayer as recorded in the Gospel of John. His prayer is for His people to come to unity.
February 19, 1996
If you knew that today is your last chance to say your last prayer, how would you do it? Would you do it the usual way saying, “Just like yesterday, Lord?” Or would you do it with all sincerity in your heart, with tears flowing from your eyes, with your voice trembling, with your knees shaking? And what would be the content of that prayer? Would it be a prayer for strength and faith? Will it be a prayer for assurance that no matter what happens you are assured of God’s presence? Will it be a prayer about your family, your possessions, your friends, and everything that you have worked for all throughout your life? Will it be a prayer for forgiveness, reconciliation, and unity?
This morning we are going to examine the last prayer, at least in the Gospel of John, which Jesus made before His arrest, His trials, His crucifixion, and finally before His death. What would be Jesus’ last prayer, His last wish for His disciples? What would be Christ’s wish for this church?
Turn with me to the gospel of John chapter 17 and verses 20-23. It says: "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, even as we are one: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 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.
From our reading we have learned that Jesus last prayer, his last wish, was for his disciples to come into unity. But this prayer was not only for the unity of his disciples, it was also a prayer of unity for those who would believe in him through the words of his disciples. It was a prayer for the Christian church, for his remnant people, for anyone who believes in him. It was a prayer for the Seventh-day Adventist church. A prayer for the churches here in north America; for churches here in Canada. A prayer for all Filipino churches all throughout the world. And most of all, it was a prayer for the unity of the Montreal-Filipino church. It was a prayer for you and for me. It was a prayer for all of us.
Two thousands years ago when Christ had the last chance to utter his last prayer, his last wish, this church was in his prayer. The Montreal Filipino church was in his prayer. We were in his prayer. You were in his prayer. I was in his prayer. Before this church was even conceived and organized, this church was already in Christ’s prayer. Before you and I were born Christ was already praying for our unity.
Even in the face of death, Christ’s prayer was prayer of selflessness. He did not pray for his holy and mighty angels to come and rescue him from the sufferings which he was about to undergo. Rather he prayed for the unity of his people. He did not pray for his disciples to become perfect materially; he prayed for them to become perfect in unity. He did not pray for his people to become perfect in soul-winning methods and strategies, but for them to be perfect in unity. He did pray for money to build churches, schools, hospitals, and other institutions, but for unity. Christ prayed for unity. Christ is praying for the unity of his people. And he will continue to pray for our unity.
Why pray for unity? Why did Jesus pray for unity instead of praying for the livelihood of his disciples so that they will have means to use for the spreading of his words? Why did Jesus prayed for unity instead of praying for talents and gifts to bestow upon his people? Why not pray for means in order to feed the poor and the hungry? Why not pray for peace and comfort? Why unity?
The answer in short and simple. All the material blessings that we will receive from God, the talents and gifts that the Spirit will endow, all the means that we will have to feed the poor and the hungry, all of these will be of no avail without unity. The church building that we plan to build, and all the souls that we could usher to his feet, the money that we could raise to feed the poor and the hungry, all these will only create disputes and arguments among us if there is no unity. This is, I submit, is the reason why Christ prayed for unity in his last prayer. There is a tremendous power in the spirit of unity that no other thing in this world can bring. Ellen G. White wrote that God’s work on earth would have long been finished if God’s people were united in spreading God’s word.