After teaching his disciples about humility, love, prayer, and the Holy Spirit, Jesus lifted his eyes to heaven and began to pray. Jesus was communing openly with the Father that his disciples might learn more deeply, more fully, what he had taught them about prayer in his sermon on the mount.
For you and me today, we can see key concepts in how Jesus prayed, and what he prayed.
Knowledge of God
The only way the oneness Jesus prayed for can be achieved is through knowing God. In this prayer, Jesus spoke of eternal life as
- verse 3, knowing God.
- verse 10, being intimately known as belonging to God.
- verses 6, 11-12, 14, knowing and receiving God’s name, God’s nature, and knowing God’s word.
- verse 8, believing in Jesus and receiving the truth.
- verses 11-12, 15, being kept and guarded by Jesus and by the Father.
- verse 13, having the Lord’s joy fulfilled in us.
- verse 26, being loved by God with the love that exists between each Person of the Godhead.
- verses 11, 21, 23, 26, receiving the Lord Jesus, God the Son, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
The kind of knowing Jesus was talking about involves not only what you and I would ordinarily consider knowledge—facts and information—but also includes the emotional and physical experience of that knowledge.
You and I can read about sailing, for instance, but we do not really know what sailing is until we have been on a boat and experienced it firsthand.
Even if we were to buy a sailboat, set it up inside our home, practice all the ropes and tacks, and sail techniques, even if we flooded our home with water to make it as realistic as possible, we would still not know what sailing is until we had actually brought that boat out onto the open water and experienced the wind filling the sails, heard the sound of the water slipping past the prow, felt the spray on our faces and the speed of the boat underneath our feet.
That kind of knowing only comes in really doing something.
God is a Person.
Yes, God is not like you and me, God is Spirit, God is infinitely and eternally vast, God’s thoughts are immense and sometimes incomprehensible, God’s ways are so often foreign to ours.
But God is real, and God is a person.
Doing something about God means responding to the Lord in love and entering into a relationship with the Lord, so that you and I know God intimately, and God knows us too, so intimately that the Lord has come to make God’s home in our very persons, concretely within the human body, making each person who is made one with God a uniquely sacred space, a sacred place.
Eternal life is a personal relationship with the only true God through Jesus Christ
The greatest love of all is the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father, and it is that love that God offers to you and me, in fact lavishes that love on us as the Father does the Son.
The kind of relationship Jesus was describing in this prayer was so close that no matter the different ways Christians would have of practicing their faith, no matter the different teachings of one group to another, no matter the changes from culture to culture, from male to female, of all the various backgrounds and family backgrounds believers have—
Every one of us who put our faith in Jesus will discover we share something deep with each other because we share something deep together with God.
Apostolic Teaching on Unity
This core concept, taught by Christ, was so crucial to the life of the church, that it shows up through the Christian Testament.
From the Gospel writer and evangelism chronicler Luke:
Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.Acts 4:32 (NRSV)
From the Gospel writer Matthew, quoting Jesus:
Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”Matthew 18:19-20 (NRSV)
From the Apostle Peter:
Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.1 Peter 3:8 (NRSV)
This is not new to the Christian Testament. This has always been the Lord’s desire for God’s people, as the Hebrew scriptures reveal:
The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the officials commanded by the word of the Lord.2 Chronicles 30:12 (NRSV)
How very good and pleasant it isPsalm 133:1 (NRSV)
when kindred live together in unity!
The Apostle Paul taught on this extensively, throughout his letters—to the believers in Corinth and Colossae, to the Galatian assemblies, to his beloved friends and supporters in Philippi, in his doctrinal treatise to the assemblies in Rome, and most particularly in his open letter to the Diaspora, beginning in Ephesus.
Walk in Harmony
At the end of Ephesians chapter 3, Paul prayed we would be rooted and grounded in God’s love for us, and we would respond in love to the Lord, so we would know, really know, together with all the saints, the extent of Jesus’ love, so that we will be fulfilled in completeness in Christ.
The first practical application of being rooted and grounded in God’s love is to
Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called: with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.Ephesians 4:1-3 (NRSV)
In Greek, the word translated as maintain means to strive with diligence, to study it, study how to do it, and to labor at it, to endeavor to achieve it.
God has already created within the church an organic unity through the Holy Spirit. Your work, and mine, is to study how to maintain and protect the unity we already have, to endeavor to protect it, to labor at, forbearing with one another in love, and to diligently strive, day in and day out, how to do this.
This organic unity is held together through these seven aspects:
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.Ephesians 4:4-6
The secret of a body is that all the parts of it share life together. That is why the church is not just an organization, it is one living body.
Only the Spirit can produce it.
The strength of the church does not lie in political clout or big numbers of people or lots of money.
The great, eternal, invisible Person of the Holy Spirit is the true power of the church. Because the Spirit knows the mind of God, and imparts the things of God to God’s people, it is possible to ask for the Spirit’s help in having one mind together on a matter.
The hope of the church is to be made like Jesus, and to one day be with Christ in glory
In the Greek, this is the same word used for Jehovah, YHWH, in the Hebrew, and was applied to Jesus Christ, Lord of the universe, who alone is the way of salvation.
One body of truth, found in the Bible, taught by the apostles.
Every believer has been born again, a new creation. The inner baptism of the Holy Spirit, for which the outer water baptism is a symbol of what has already happened on the inside.
We are children of the same family.
God urges us to focus on what you and I share in Christ rather than what would divide us.
[Young Stars | Picryl]