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Jesus Prays for Our Unity

(John 17:20-23)

I. Introduction.
A. Orientation.
This morning, we saw
Jesus prayed for us
That the Father would make us holy
That He would purify us from sin and selfishness
Because Jesus was sending us to the world
To tell others of His saving love in the Gospel.
If we were not purified from sin,
The world would be too tempting;
And if our selfishness was not broken,
We would not want to go
And so He prayed.

But we also saw,

That Jesus prayer doesnt automatically sanctify us
His prayer and His personal sanctification
Empowered the means
The Father has given us
But we must use them.
We must be in the Word
We must read, understand, apply,

And seek to live according to His Word

We must also use the other ways

The Lord has appointed to give us more of His Spirit
Prayer, worship, fellowship, the Lords Table
If we are to have the strength we need
Effectively to reach the lost with His Gospel.

B. Preview.
This evening, we see He prayed this
Not only that we might have the strength
To move out of our comfort zones and evangelize,
And to do this without being stumbled by the world,
He also prayed because He was concerned
About the character of our witness
He wants us
To be living proof
That He was sent by His Father,
And that He has sent us to the world
Through our unity as the body of Christ.

This evening, lets consider:

1. That Jesus prayer was for all believers.
2. That His prayer is that we would all be one.

3. What Jesus has given us so that we all would be one.
4. Why Jesus prays that we might be one.
5. And then close with some ways we should promote this unity.

II. Sermon.
A. First, we see that Jesus prays for all believers: present and future.
He says in verse 20, I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who
believe in Me through their word.
Theres no doubt He was praying for His disciples.
But He also prayed for those who had believed and will believe.
Even though the present tense is used here,
Jesus is referring to all who will ever believe.
In the original language,
Sometimes the writer or speaker
Will refer to something that is so certain to take place
That he represents it as something that is already taking place.

Jesus knew there were others the Father had given Him,
So He prays for them as well
This, as weve seen, includes us
If we believe in Him
And are following Him.

B. Second, Jesus prays that we would all be one.

He says in verse 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
sent Me.

He prays that we might have a oneness/unity

That is the same as what Father shares with Son,
And Son with Father,
That we might share this oneness with each other
And ultimately with the Father and Son.

He wasnt praying
That we would become one in Being
With the Father, Son and Spirit
That we would become part of the Godhead
As the Worldwide Church of God believes.
The language may seem to suggest this,
But such a belief is not only blasphemous,
It would be impossible
Even God cant bring us into the Godhead.

What He was praying

Was that we would be one in heart
And one in purpose:

That we would have the same love

And concern for one another
That the Father has for the Son,
And the Son for the Father,

And that Jesus has for us.

Remember what Jesus commanded His disciples in John 13:34?

He said, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I
have loved you, that you also love one another.

But theres also another sense

In which He prayed we would be united:
And that is in one purpose
That we have one goal or objective
Even as the Father and Son share one purpose:
And that is His glory in the salvation of His people.

Think of what Jesus has been asking throughout this prayer:

He prayed that the Father would glorify the Son
By giving Him the strength to carry out our redemption;
So that the Son might glorify Him
By bringing many sons to glory.

Jesus also prayed that these sons might glorify Him

By bringing the Gospel to others,
So that they too might know and glorify Him.

Jesus prays
That we might have one heart towards one another
And one purpose.

C. Third, Jesus has given us His Spirit so that we will have this love and purpose.
He prays in verse 22, The glory which You have given Me I have given to them,
that they may be one, just as We are one.
Jesus earlier prayed that the Father
Would glorify Him with the glory
He had with Him before the world was:
That He would bestow something of His divine glory
On His human nature
Since He is the God-man.

Hes not praying

That the Father would give this to His disciples.
For one thing, He didnt have it yet
He would receive this when He was exalted
And even if He did,
He wouldnt give it to us
Again, because this glory belongs to God alone.

The glory He did possess

That He had given His disciples in some measure
And would yet pour out on them in greater measure
Was the glory of His Spirit:
Hes the only One who could
Make them (and us) one in heart and purpose

Even as He and the Father are one.

As the high priest was anointed with oil

As a symbol of the Spirit
Who would empower him for Gods service,
So Jesus was anointed with the Spirit above measure
To do the work He was called to do.
And as that oil ran down Aarons beard
And flowed down to the edges of his robes,
Even so Jesus received the Spirit
That He might give Him to His people
That we might be one.

D. Finally, we see why Jesus prays we would be one.

Jesus says in verse 23, I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in
unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You
have loved Me (Cf. v. 20).
Jesus prays that we might be filled with His Spirit
That we might be one in heart and purpose
So that the world would have a witness They would have proof that the Gospel is true,
That the Father really did send His Son into the world
That He might save those who believe;
And that He really does love those
Who take hold of His Son by faith

And receives them into His family
As His sons and daughters.

God has given several witnesses to His truth:

The witness of Himself in nature.
The witness of His moral standard through conscience.
The witness of His holiness through His Law.
The witness of His love and mercy through the Gospel.

But here is one more witness to the truth of all these things:
How the Gospel changes our lives.

It transforms us from those who hate and injure one another,

To those who love and would lay down our lives for one another;
And from seeking the things of this world,
To seeking the world that is coming
Not only for ourselves, but also for others.

We saw earlier that Jesus commanded His disciples

To love one another as He loved them: Why?
He says in John 13:35, By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you
have love for one another.

E. Since this is the evidence God desires to reveal His truth,

Its easy to see why Satan spends so much time attacking it.

One thing that surprised me

When I entered the ministry

Was how easily Christians
Become offended at one another,
Separate from each other,
And refuse to be reconciled with one another.

The history of the church also bears this out.

Consider how many denominations exist today.
Satan has done a very good job
Of destroying that witness Jesus desired and prayed for.
When the world looks at the church
One of the first things they attack
Is the fact that the church
Is fragmented into so many different groups
They just cant seem to get along with each other.

This fact is undoubtedly one of the reasons

John Frame wrote his book Evangelical Reunion,
Where he expresses the conviction
That the church should be united
And deal with her differences as one body
Rather than continue to exist as a fragmented body
That argues against the truth of the Gospel.
Hes undoubtedly right.


But since the church isnt at that point

What can we do?
How can Jesus prayer be realized?
Are we just to stand back and wait?
Or is there something we should be doing?

One thing we can do is pray:

Pray that the Lord would bring the church together;
Pray for revival
In revival, the Spirit is poured out
More extensively and powerfully.
When Christians have more of the Spirit
It makes us love one another more
And so want to unite.

Another thing we can do

Is not be part of the problem
By saying and doing things to other believers
That divide, rather than unite.

When we meet other Christians,

Lets try not to widen the gap, but narrow it
Lets not focus on our differences
But on the things we share in common.


After all, if we believe in the same Lord,

And share the same foundational beliefs,
We will be spending eternity together.
We are called to love one another.
Walter Cradock was undoubtedly right when he writes, When I have communion
with a saint, I must not look so much whether he be of such an opinion, or whether
he has taken the covenant, or has been baptized once or twice or ten times, but see
if he has fellowship with the Father, and with Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah Burroughs also wrote this helpful comment, Articles or rules for doctrine
or practice in matters of religion to be imposed upon men, should be as few as may
be. There is very great danger in the unnecessary multiplying them. This in all
ages has caused division and exceeding disturbances in the churches of Christ.

The difficulty comes when we run into believers

That hold things we know are dishonoring to Jesus.
Focusing on what we share in common
Doesnt mean we dont address things dishonoring to the Lord
Or harmful to believers,
But it means that we do so
From the standpoint that we are family
Lets not kick them out of the church
Or write them out of the kingdom
Because they dont believe what we believe
Or even what they should believe.
We need to love and receive other believers
As Jesus would love and receive them

If He were in standing our place,
And then in patient love
Seeking to lead them into the truth.

Though may be a while

Before the church becomes one,
Lets at least love other believers
And work with them to advance Gods kingdom.
Lets show the world a united front
So that Jesus will have the witness He desires. Amen.