Please note the following is an excerpt from “Jesus’ Prayer from A to Z”, of which I’m Editor.
– C – Constrained By Purpose, by Cook, James L.
Jesus prayed for you and me centuries before we ever appeared on the scene. In His magnificent prayer in John 17, His heartfelt words reveal His singleness of purpose in coming into the world. He begins by reviewing with His Father the completion of the mission He had been given (v. 4). He then prays for the faithfulness and safety of the disciples who would be carrying on the work of the Gospel in an unbelieving and adversarial world (vs. 6-19). Finally, in verses 20 and 21, Jesus turns His attention to those who would become believers in the future through the apostles’ word (“word” or “message” in the singular is intended to include all the apostles’ preaching, teaching, and writing as a unit or body of doctrine). In other words, He was praying for the future Church.
His prayer on our behalf was quite simply, and yet profoundly, that we may be one as He and the Father are one. We can debate from now until He comes again how and to what extent our unity approximates that of the Father and the Son, but surely Jesus was holding up their unity as a model for believers. Our unity today cannot be a oneness of essence in the identical sense in which God and Jesus are one essence. And yet, our unity does have an essence: it is spiritual. Our oneness is intrinsically in and of the Spirit based on our faith and trust in Jesus as God’s Son and our Savior, through our belief in the truth of God’s word revealed through the apostles’ doctrine. “Baptized by one Spirit into one body (I Cor. 12:13), we are thereby one in the Father and the Son. This is the unity, the oneness, for which He prayed.
Jesus had a profound purpose in His prayer for our unity. Three times in verse 21, recorded by John, He uses a little word with a powerful meaning: hina is a Greek word which denotes purpose or intent. It is commonly translated “in order that,” or “so that,” or simply “that.” The purpose of the unity for which Jesus prayed is that the world may believe that God had sent Him, that He is God’s Son, God’s Messiah. The world was important to Jesus. His Father loved it (John 3:16) and Jesus was about to die for it. This purpose of His heart’s desire and prayer constrains us today to make this unity a priority for our Savior.
The apostle Paul felt and expressed the constraint of this purpose when he urged the Ephesian Christians to “be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3 NIV). The Greek word Paul uses for “be diligent” means to be zealous or eager, to take pains, to make every effort. We should thus be charged up and willing to do whatever is required of us to live out this unity among God’s people so that the world will believe.
When this unity is expressed, how will it appear to an onlooker? It must be a unity that the world can observe; a unity that they see which is convincing, that Jesus is indeed God’s Son sent into the world as our Savior. It will be a unity that manifests itself by the love believers have for one another and for our Lord Jesus Christ. It will result in joyful service to all. It will be a oneness with Jesus, visually evident and similar to the oneness that Jesus described between Himself and His Father, in terms of their common love for one another, their singleness of purpose and mission, and the manner in which they glorify one another by words and deeds. The goal of our Christian striving must be nothing less than to fulfill Jesus’ prayer and purpose.
Let us pray: Our Father, we thank You for the spiritual unity that already exists among us who are members of your dear Family. Empower us through your Word and by the Holy Spirit to make that unity a visible reality, so that the world may believe. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Cook, Dr. James L. - Hillsboro, OH - Retired U.S. Military Chaplain (Navy and Air Force). Native of Winston-Salem, NC. Graduate of Cincinnati Bible Seminary, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Xavier University (Ed.D). Taught at St. Petersburg Theological Seminary and Florida Christian College. He and wife Christine have three children and seven grandchildren.
Christian Hearts In Love United –
Seek alone in Jesus rest;
Has He not your love excited?
Then let love inspire each breast;
Members on our Head depending,
Lights reflecting Him, our Sun,
Brethren His commands attending,
We in Him, our Lord, are one.
O that such may be our union;
As Thine with the Father is,
And not one of our communion
E’er forsake the path of bliss;
May our light ‘fore men with brightness,
From Thy light reflected, shine;
Thus the world will bear us witness,
That we, Lord, are truly Thine.
- Nikolaus L. von Zinzendorf (1700-1760)
Has the purpose of Jesus’ prayer
constrained my purpose for living?
Pray Jesus’ prayer for:
Church leaders (Christian Ed./ Ministries & Missionaries)/
Communication workers/ Clothing industry
Pray Jesus’ prayer for:
Believers in Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Central
African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Cook Islands,
Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech RepublicThis message has been edited. Last edited by: Tom (Jn.17:21) M.,
Fellowship of John 17:21
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