by Robert Brow
At the conclusion of the last supper with his disciples Jesus offered a special prayer to God the Father for them. But then he added the words in our text today: "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word" (John 17:20). That is a prayer for us who have come to faith through the words of his disciples in the Gospels. From the prayer I will pick out the three words ONENESS, GLORY, LOVE. These three words are supremely important for us as we seek to serve him in the world..
ONENESS I will begin by reading what he prayed for us about our ONENESS. Many people imagine that the world will believe our message if we can have a more efficient organizational merger of all Christian denominations. But Jesus’ prayer is for something very different. The oneness he has in mind for us is an organic relationship. "That they all may be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (17:21).
In a previous chapter Jesus had pictured this kind of organic oneness in the parable of the Vine. "Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). The oneness of branches is that each is connected with the vine, and the vine is in turn tended by the vine grower.
What does this mean in practice? The world is not impressed by the fact that people have their name on a roll as church members. They don’t really care what denomination we belong to. But they do sense when Christians have that kind of inner relationship with the Messiah. If they see that, it makes it easy for them to believe that Jesus was sent by the Father into our world and that we are obviously receiving our spiritual nourishment from him. Others also notice when Christians from different backgrounds work together in serving their city.
GLORY The next word he prayed about was the word GLORY. "Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world" (17:24). When we notice a beautiful flower in the woods, we have seen its glory. We appreciate the glory of roses, and orchids, carnations, daffodils. We are struck by the glory of a cardinal, a woodpecker, a robin. Each kind of fish or wild animal has its glory if we turn from our business to look. And we give glory by valuing what we see. But obviously if we don’t look, we never appreciate any of those glories.
Most of us sense that because of our bodily imperfections and faults of character others may not see much glory in our lives. But the Messiah wanted his glory to be known. So he prayed that people would come into close contact with him, and see what he is really like. John the beloved disciple did that, and he wrote "The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
LOVE The third word is LOVE. In his first Epistle John wrote. "We have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them" (1 John 4:16). In the Bible a name is often a description of character or function. And one of the most glorious things we can experience is seeing God’s kind of love in the lives of others and in the life of Jesus himself. So he prayed "I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them" (17:26).
How does this work out in practice? We begin with our inner heart relationship with Jesus the Son of God. Without that personal contact, we never see his glory. But once we can experience him and talk to him we begin to notice the glory of his love relationship with the Father, and his love relationship with us. As we do that, the world around us begins to sense something different about us. Their curiosity is aroused. They want to find out more. And they come into personal contact with the one who loves us.
That is what Jesus prayed for those who would come to believe in him. This is what he longs for in my life and in yours. And there is no need to delay entering into that glory. So I invite you to join in this prayer.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am sorry I keep passing you by without taking time to appreciate your glory. Help me now to get to know you. I want to experience that love relationship which you had with the Father and which you want to have with me.