Faithlife Sermons

Jesus Prayed for the Unity of the Church

Praying with Christ this Christmas - Advent 2022  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  46:49
0 ratings
· 8 views
Files
Notes
Transcript
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →
Introduction:
Good morning Church Family,
I have very much been looking forward to saying these words.
If you have your Bibles, let me invite you to open with me to the book of John chapter 17, we will begin reading in verse 20.
If you don’t have a copy of God’s word just slip up your hand and one of our church members will be glad to bring you one.
If you are visiting with us here at St. Rose Community Church or if you have been visiting with us for the last three months, I want to introduce myself.
My name is Brandon Langley, I am one of the pastors here at St. Rose Community Church. In fact, I have served as the lead pastor here for about 7 years now, and in September, our church graciously granted me a 3 month Sabbatical from preaching and pastoral responsibilities.
During that time, I have spent much needed time with my family and with the Lord.
I took the time to finish up and graduate with a degree I had been working on for several years…, and I spent time praying and preparing for this next season of ministry.
Now, I could spend a long time this morning talking through things that the Lord did over my Sabbatical…, but that would be a distraction from the main task this morning…
The task that God has primarily called me to in this church in this moment is the task of preaching God’s word.
A couple weeks ago, Drew began our advent Christmas series which takes us through the High Priestly Prayer…
… let me just pause there and say this… my Sabbatical would not have been possible or as fruitful without the faithful labor of Drew O’Neal in his care for this church. Drew thank you brother for your pastoral ministry to me and to this church. It also would not have been possible with out our other elders, Stephen and Ray. Thank you brothers.
John 17 is 2,000 year old record of a prayer Jesus prayed on our behalf which he lifted up to God the Father before he died on the cross for us.
Reading this text is like walking on Holy Ground. It is profound.
… AND it is a wonderful text to meditate on as we consider Christmas.
Christ’s intention for the miracle of Christmas, his coming to Earth as a human is found in these words.
If you ever asked the question, “what is God’s will for my life?” OR “what is God’s will for our church?
This should be a text you consult because here we have God the Son speaking to God the Father about his will for our lives.
So lets read and lets listen and lets pray for understanding.
Jesus prays these words…
John 17:20–24 ESV
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just 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 have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Lets Pray
John 17:20 ESV
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
Jesus Christ of Nazareth…, 2,000 years ago, before he took his final steps to the cross.…
He prayed for you.
He clarified that what he was about to do in his death and resurrection was not simply to benefit his immediate disciples….
but rather his words, and ministry, and work on the cross was for that generation and it was for your generation.
In this prayer, He anticipates your salvation.
He anticipates the believers of St. Rose Community Church.
Not only does he anticipate your salvation , but he anticipates the means by which you would come to that salvation.
Jesus highlights the hearing and the believing of God’s message through preachers of the Word.
John 17:20 (ESV)
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
Jesus anticipates a continuous, generation by generation, ministry of preaching the most important message in the history of the world.
If you are here this morning and you are not certain that you are in good standing with God…, you are in the right place.
You have the opportunity for forgiveness this morning… opportunity for eternal life… opportunity for everlasting relationship with God through these very simple means - the hearing and believing the message of Jesus through the preached word of God.
Right now in these following sentences …, someone’s eternity will be influenced either positively or negatively.
Believe this… that Jesus really is the manifestation of God on earth.
That He was and is and will forever be God with us.
That he lived a perfect human life…
that he died a substitutionary death, thus paying the death penalty for sinners like me….
that he then conquered the curse of death, rose again…,
and that he now offers eternal life to anyone who would trust him as Lord and believe his message.
This is how salvation works… you hear that message and you either believe with your whole heart, so much so that you repent of your sin and turn to follow this Jesus
OR you reject that message and you reject the God of that message and you harden yourself to it a little more.
If you are a Christian in this room this prayer certainly includes you.
John 17:20 ESV
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
If at some point in your life, you heard the preaching of God’s word and you believed… you need to pause for just a moment and be thankful for that reality which Jesus assumed and expected would save you one day.
Be thankful that somebody somewhere was obedient to preach the good news to you.
Be thankful that God worked in your heart so that you would believe what you heard.
And be thankful that Jesus, 2,000 years ago, was communicating with God the Father about and for you.
Now, I suppose we could end the sermon right here.…,
In fact, that is where much preaching ends.
Much preaching of the good news ends with a call for you to simply be saved…, but I want you to notice that that is not where Jesus’ prayer ends.
In fact, thats really just the beginning of his prayer for you.
Jesus’ high priestly prayer is not a prayer that as many people as possible will believe..
But rather Jesus’ prayer takes a step further For you.
The purpose of salvation goes deeper.
Its scope - wider.
Its end goal more glorious Then walking an aisle and picking up some assurance that you won’t go to hell.
Christian...., you were not called to believe through the preached word only so that you would get out of hell in the end…
Now that is a wonderful thing, but you… we.... all are called to more than that.
Jesus prays for more for you and from you.
The thing that really sticks out about this section in John 17… is all the “so that” phrases.
“So that” is a purpose clause… it takes you beyond the what and into the deeper “why”....
the “so that” clauses take you beyond the lights, and the songs, and the happy holidays…, and into the reason for the season… Or in this case, into the purpose for which Christ now prays…, and thus the purpose for which Christ came at Christmas.
Listen for your ultimate purpose in life as the “so thats” just ring out of the passage taking you deeper and deeper.
John 17:20–24 (ESV)
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just 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 have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
So what are the “so thats” leading to.
Why is Jesus praying and for what is Jesus praying?

Three Prayer Requests:

#1 Jesus Prays for Our Unity With God

John 17:21 (ESV)
21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us,...
Jesus prays for the unity of Christians which we will talk about in a second…, but under that unity among Christians, supporting that unity, causing that unity…, is first a unity with God himself.
Earlier Jesus describes in his prayer what the true essence of eternal life is.
John 17:3 ESV
3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Eternal life is and forever will be a joyful and personal knowledge of God.
A relationship that Jesus himself has enjoyed from eternity past.
We worship a relational God.
In his very being he is Father, Son, and Spirit.
There is no other living being exactly like God.
He is totally unique.
He has always existed as eternal love shared in and with himself.... joy shared in and with himself…, relationship shared with himself.
This is what it means that the Christian God is triune. He is trinity…
He is unlike any other created thing, because all created beings need relationship with other created being in order to be fulfilled… but he is uncreated and he is relationally fulfilled in himself.
God the Son shared in the glory of God the Father in and through the presence of God the Spirit from before the foundation of the world.
In fact, it is to that glorious unhindered union that Jesus now looks forward to returning to.
John 17:5 ESV
5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
John 17:24 ESV
24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
God has always existed in love sharing relationship with himself.
Such a relationship of joy, goodness, contentment, safety, and wonder cannot even be imagined.
Jesus is speaking of things higher, deeper, and wider then our finite ability to grasp…
but somehow… someway…
Jesus prays and understands that to believe in him through the word preached about him… is to be invited into that eternal relationship Of God.
To be a Christian means not only that Jesus died on a cross which you deserved…
It means that Jesus now invites you into a relationship with God that only he deserved.
The gospel is an invitation to be loved for eternity future as Jesus has been loved from eternity past.
This relational unity with God starts in part now, but it progresses until perfection on the last day.
In one sense, our oneness with God was set before the foundation of the world.
God the Father gave us to God the Son already.
But there is another sense in which our oneness with God is in process waiting to be completed when we see Jesus’ glory in its fulness.
John 17:24 (ESV)
24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
One day we will know in full what now we only know in part.
This is eternal life, that we know the one true God.
but as for now, in the mean time....
Our oneness with God, though positionally secure.., it experientially grows.
In this world, we grow to understand
We grow to enjoy all that our relationship with God means.
This is what Randy referred to last week in his portion of Jesus’ prayer.
John 17:17 ESV
17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
that word “sanctify” means to set something apart for a particular purpose…, or for a particular service to God.
Jesus prays that his disciples would be increasingly set apart for relational unity with God by the truth that is found in his word.
The word illuminates and intensifies our oneness with God and our usefulness for his purposes in this world until we see him face to face.
Thats why we are here this morning.
We want to progressively draw nearer to God.
We want to more clearly be set apart for the purposes of God....
We want to persevere to the day where we will be perfectly one… where we will be where Jesus is and where we will see with our own eyes the glory that The Father has given the Son eternally.

#1 Jesus Prays for Our Unity with God

but that oneness with God we enjoy now has an effect.
It has an overflow and that is what Jesus actually primarily prays for Here.
Like the heat of the sun expresses itself in the light which shines onto the world....
Jesus prays that the unity that we enjoy with God manifests itself in very visible expression.
That visible expression of our unity with God manifests itself in our unity with each other.

#2 Jesus Prays for the Unity of the Church

John 17:20–23(ESV)
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
21 that they may all be one, just 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 have sent me.
22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one...
Do you realize how big a deal it is to have deep, meaningful, tested, mutually forgiving, relationships in the local church?
Jesus says that the glory that the Father gave to him… he now has given to you…, so that you might be one with other Christians just as Jesus has been one with the Father from eternity past.
Now there is some debate on what it means that Jesus gives us his glory for the sake of the unity.
What in the world does verse 22 mean really?
John 17:22 ESV
The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
It could mean that Jesus has shown his glory to us so that we might be one.
Jesus could be speaking about the Spirit of God he plans to pour out upon believers so that we might be one.
Like God’s glory fell upon mount sinai, or the tabernacle, or the temple…, God’s glory very much filled the incarnate Jesus who came to dwell among us at Christmas.
God the Spirit acts as the meaningful and personal connection between God the Father and God the Son.... and Jesus has already said in John that he aims to give the glorious Spirit of God to believers.
John 14:17 ESV
17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
Jesus gives the glory of God’s presence to his followers SO THAT they may be one with one another.
Whatever Jesus is particularly referring to with this sharing of his glory….the church, is obviously something totally new...., something totally other…, by the power and the indwelling glory of God’s Spirit who connects us to God and us to each other.
So the church becomes this community… this common unity only made possible by the glory of Christ Jesus given to us.
The unity between sinners who have differing but strong opinions and personalities, therefore, actually reflects the glory of the triune God who has existed in harmonious and joyful relationship with himself from eternity past.
Your relationships with people in this church matters.
Don’t leave this in theoretical generalities that are cool to think about. …
In what sense does our unity reflect Jesus’ unity with us?
What would it look like for you to strive to become perfectly one with other believers in this church according to Christ’s prayer here?
What does unity look like when you put flesh on it?
Is it just that nobody throws things at business meetings… is it merely that church people tolerate one another politely? Or is Jesus praying for something more beautiful than that?
Practically and legitimately, How did Jesus pursue oneness with us?
Lets think about Christmas for just a second...
Jesus actively pursued us even though we don’t pursue him
Jesus came to earth to draw us into relationship with him…, even though we wanted nothing to do with him.
His pursuit of unity with us was not conditioned on whether we were doing our part.
Even while we were still enemies…, Christ died for us.
If your pursuit of relational unity with others in this church is contingent upon whether they meet your expectations…, then you are pursuing relationships in this church like the world…, and there is nothing supernatural about it.
You could live a relational life like that if the gospel were not true at all.
If you believe your relational woes are always everyone else’s fault …, then I am pretty confident that It is not everyone else’s fault.
If you find yourself always offended and never the offender…, always the one with unmet expectations…, but never aware of failing to meet any one elses expectations… then you are walking the line of a worldly unchristian understanding of community.
Not only did Jesus actively pursue unity with us… he humbled himself in doing so.
Jesus humbled himself to humanity. He was born in a manger.
He emptied himself of all honor and glory he deserved and he pursued us.
He took the blame and the shame on himself when it truly was not his to carry.
The essential ingredient to powerful and unshakeable unity is humility.
but even more than that…
Jesus sacrificed for us.
He made the ultimate sacrifice that we might be united to him forever.
This is the miracle by which Jesus united you to himself forever...
He accomplished relationship with us through great sacrifice.…
Why would we ever assume that unity among Christian brothers and sisters would require anything other than great sacrifice For the good of one another.
Jesus prays that his miracle life, death, resurrection and teaching will now create a community in which oneness is supernaturally pursued with one another by virtue of the same kind of pursuit.
How does Jesus hope for oneness to be achieved in the fellowship of the church:
Believers who actively pursue oneness with humility and with great sacrifice for one another.
If you want to experience the miracle of oneness that Jesus prays for in this church…, then pursue it as Jesus pursued it… with great intentionality, humility, and self-sacrifice.
This exact relationship between the glory of Christ and the miracle of church community is echoed by the apostle Paul over and over again.
In Ephesians 3, Paul articulates the ultimate plan of God to be glorified through his church.
Ephesians 3:10–11 ESV
so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Then Paul offers this intense and grand prayer...
Ephesians 3:20–21
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
You might expect following such a prayer that Paul would now give some epic call to go to the nations or plant 100 churches… but listen to what follows.
Listen to how Paul envisions the church showcasing the glory of God .
Ephesians 4:1–6
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Do you want to glorify God this year?
Embrace and eagerness to Join yourself and commit yourself to the relationships in the local church.
With humility, gentleness, patience, and zeal… pursue what Christ has prayed for…
this is the kind of common unity that stuns the world and leads them to Jesus…
that leads us to our last “so that”
The last prayer request of Jesus we will look at this morning.

#3 Jesus Prays for Our Witness to the World

John 17:21-23 (ESV)
21 that they may all be one, just 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 have sent me.
22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,
23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Jesus assumed that our gospel proclamation would be confirmed by and meaningfully aided by our gospel communities of faith.
In other words… when unbelieving people both hear the gospel in our words…, but then experience something very supernatural in the relational unity of our church… they are brought to saving faith in Jesus.
Jesus is praying to this end…
That the beauty and the glory of God and the gospel would be made visible in the community of the church so much so that it brings the lost and dying world to saving faith.
There is a lot of talk among Southern Baptist denominational leaders about declining baptism numbers and the perceived answer is often that we just need to emphasize evangelism more.
But perhaps the low baptism numbers for our denomination as a whole is actually a symptom to a deeper problem.
Perhaps baptism numbers across the denomination are down… not just because we have failed to proclaim the gospel message verbally…, but because so many churches have failed to embody the gospel message in Church life.
by the way we love one another...
by the way we settle disagreements..
by the way we forgive one another..
by the way we lay down our own preferences in pursuit of relational unity with people who are very different from us.
Many people are against Christianity not because they haven’t heard the gospel…, but because they HAVE been to church.
Now, I am happy to say that this has one been the experience in our church.
And May it never be so.
May our oneness with Jesus be so primary in our life…
that it unites us in a remarkable way to every other member in this sweet congregation despite any extra-bibilcal differences we may have.
May our oneness with Jesus and with one another be so supernatural, that the world looks up on it and says…. “Surely their gospel message must be true. Surely they are people who are joined to God…, look at how they are joined to each other.”
This is Christ’s prayer for us.
This is part of the the miracle that Christmas was meant to accomplish.
Christmas was a community creating event… impoverished newly weds, lowly shepherds, and kingly wisemen can now all gather around the same Jesus.
Lets read one more time and close with a few takeaways:
John 17:20–24 ESV
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just 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 have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Takeaways are simple:
Pursue unity with God
relational unity with God is yours to enjoy here and now.
If you don’t think you have a real relationship with God please come speak with one of us. Our pastors will be holding the exit doors in the foyer for you.. If you want to talk just grab one of them and they would love to speak with you.
Covenant to a church
we believe that the local church is essentially a community of people committed to one another.
The first believers in acts 2…. “Devoted themselves to the fellowship”
They committed themselves to a particular group of believing Christians.
That is what church membership is. If you are not formally committed to the unity of this community in church membership… I want to invite you to do so… Fill out a welcome card with your interest and lets begin a conversation about what God has really called us to in relation to the local church.
Be Eager for Christ-exalting unity
be the kind of church member who is constantly seeking, pursuing, and creating unity with other believers around you.
Be the kind of church member who sniffs out and dissolves quickly the dangerous ever encroaching attack of Satan through disunity.
Be the kind of church member who relates to others in a way that showcases the gospel we believe.
Be Thankful for Miracle Unity
If you have experienced any degree of relational unity with God or with other Christians… its a miracle.
We are broken people living in a broken world surrounded by broken people.
The fact that God can unite sinners to himself and to one another is astounding. Be thankful for the ways you see this expressed in your life every day.
Lets PRay.
Related Media
Related Sermons