Scripture: John 17:20-26
20 "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you; and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."
Meditation: When you pray what do you usually ask for - God's help, blessing, guidance, and wisdom? One of the greatest privileges and responsibilities we have been given by God is to pray not only for ourselves, but for others as well. The Lord Jesus lived a life full of prayer, blessing, and gratitude. He prayed for his disciples, especially when they were in great need or danger. Mark tells us in his Gospel account (see chapter 6:46-51) that when Jesus was praying alone on the mountain he saw that his disciples were in great distress due to a life-threatening storm that was beating against their boat. Jesus immediately came to their rescue - walking on the waves of the rough waters before he calmed them! Luke records in his gospel account the words of Jesus to Simon Peter shortly before Jesus' arrest and Peter's denial of the Lord three times. "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:32). Jesus' prayers were personal, direct, and focused on the good of others.
The longest recorded prayer of Jesus is found in the Gospel of John, the "high priestly" prayer which Jesus prayed aloud at his last supper meal with his disciples (John 17). This prayer most clearly reveals the heart of Jesus - who and what he loved most - love for his Father and love for those who believed in him. His prayer focused on the love and unity he desired for all who would believe in him and follow him, not only in the present, but in the future as well. Jesus' prayer concludes with a petition for the unity among all Christians who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus prays for all men and women who will come after him and follow him as his disciples. In a special way Jesus prays here for each one of us that as members of his body the church we would be one as he and his Father are one. The unity of Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, with the eternal Father is a unity of mutual love, service, and honor, and a oneness of mind, heart, and spirit. The Lord Jesus calls each and every one of his followers into this unity of mutual love, service, honor, and friendship with all who belong to Christ.
Jesus’ prayer on the eve of his sacrifice shows the great love and trust he had for his beloved disciples. He knew they would abandon him in his hour of trial, yet he entrusted to them the great task of spreading his name throughout the world and to the end of the ages. The Lord Jesus entrust us today with the same mission - to make him known and loved by all. Jesus died and rose again that all might be one as he and the Father are one. Do you love and accept all baptized Christians as your brothers and sisters in Christ?
The Lord Jesus included each one of us in his high priestly prayer at the last supper. He continues his high priestly office this very day as our intercessor at the right hand of the Father before the throne of heaven. Paul the Apostle tells us that it is "Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us" (Romans 8:34; see also Hebrews 7: 25). Do you join in Jesus' high priestly prayer that all who profess Jesus as Lord may grow in love and unity together as brothers and sisters who have been redeemed through the precious blood shed for us on the cross?
"Heavenly Father, have mercy on all your people and heal the divisions in the body of Christ. May all Christian people throughout the world attain the unity for which Jesus prayed on the eve of his sacrifice. Renew in us the power of the Spirit that we may be a sign of that unity and a means of its growth. Increase in us a fervent love for all our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ."
1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you."
5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; yes, I have a goodly heritage.
7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure.
11 You show me the path of life; in your presence there is fulness of joy, in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
"The Lord's loving-kindness, no less than his mercy, is great in
respect of our salvation in that, not content to redeem us with
his blood, he in addition prayed for us. See now what the desire
of his petition was, that just as the Father and Son are one, so
also we should abide in absolute unity. From this, it may be
evident how greatly someone sins who divides unity and peace,
since even the Lord himself petitioned for this same thing. He no
doubt desired that his people should in this way be saved and live
in peace since he knew that discord cannot come into the kingdom
of God." (excerpt from THE LORD’S PRAYER 30.1)
from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible,
copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised
Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the
Division of Christian Education of the National Council of
the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation
references for quotes from the writings of the early
church fathers can be found here.
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