While reading the gospels, I find myself continually struck by Jesus. His tender compassion and piercing truth fill its pages and keep me coming back for more.
In this passage of John 17, Jesus recognizes that his time has come to be taken by the Roman officials for his crucifixion. We get one last intimate glance at his relationship with his Father in this lengthy prayer.
He first lays out that the only way to the Father is through “eternal life”, which he says is “to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” He recalls that his time on earth was to bring God glory and longs to be back with him in heaven sharing in “the glory we shared before the world began.” I love the longing that seems to be in his voice. I would imagine being in God’s presence provides a peace that we can never experience on this earth and a desire for him that nothing else can satisfy. Jesus had this longing because he had spent time with God. He had been in his presence and knew his power. And because Jesus had truly experienced God, he wasn’t satisfied without him. When I read this, I have to ask: When we don’t long for God’s glory, is it because we haven’t spent time with him, to even understand our need? Or do we not long for him, because we don’t really even know him?
Jesus goes on to petition on behalf of the disciples that he would soon be leaving. He prays for those “you have given to me”. “Holy Father, keep them and care for them.” He had real love for these people. And then, he goes on to pray for you and I and this is where my heart begins to melt. All these years later, here I am-little old me and there was a prayer by Christ himself on my behalf and yours.
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony.” (that’s us!!) “My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father- that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.”
His prayer is for our unity and our example to others. So that by the very way we live our lives and how we talk and care for one another, the world would believe in Jesus! That’s a lofty goal, friends. There is much division these days. We are divided in politics and social issues and very obviously in church issues. His prayer was that we would be unified by them.
I’ve been a part of a number of different kinds of churches in my life and something that saddens me is when I see a lack of grace given for anyone that isn’t in the same place in their spiritual journey. But as we see even in scripture, that’s just how it happens. Our job as a more mature believer is to lovingly bring someone along and speak the truth in love (see Matthew 18 for Biblical correction). I have been guilty of not giving grace and God is continually peeling away my own pride issues as he shows me that unity is his heart’s desire for the church.
God is also showing me that I can trust him to do the work in someone else’s life, because I am not responsible for the outcome. If you are a parent, this should take about 50 pounds off your back! As our children make their faith their own, they will make some bad choices along the way. Cry out to the Lord on their behalf, like Jesus has done for us and then trust the Holy Spirit to do the life-changing work in their lives.
Thank you Lord for giving us each a story and that our very existence today shows that you aren’t done with us. May we be as gracious with one another!
I think the only obvious question now is, what will you do with Christ’s heart for you?