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Unity

Encounters with Jesus in the Gospel of John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  28:11
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We’re beginning to wrap up our time in the Gospel of John today. In our journey through the Gospel we have encountered Jesus in various ways: teacher, healer, provider, protector, guide, sustainer, and source of life.
In our text today, Jesus is offering up a prayer for those who follow Him, not only for his immediate disciples but those who would come to believe through them, and so vicariously this prayer is for us as well. Our text will begin referring to some words Jesus has just spoken. The closing verse of chapter 16 reads:
John 16:33 ESV
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Hear the words Jesus prayed for you and for me:
John 17 ESV
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. 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. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
These are the words of our Lord, thanks be to God.
I do not normally read an entire chapter to preach on, but this is truly one prayer.
Jesus, in this prayer recognizes the purpose for which he came. Whereas in the past he has said, “My hour has not yet come...” now he says, “the hour has come”. The moment is upon us and so we now are able to see what the hour is.
To put this in context: The passover meal has been eaten, Jesus has announced that one would betray him, that Peter would deny him, and that all the disciples would scatter. John does not give the details of location as the other Gospels do, instead he focuses on the words of Jesus. Immediately following this prayer, in the Gospel of John, in chapter 18 is Jesus arrest. So we can imagine that his prayer is taking place in the garden of Gethsemane. However, this is not likely the prayer Jesus said privately, but in in Jewish tradition it was likely said aloud and available for his followers to hear.
It is a prayer that you an I need to hear as well. We need to hear of the unity between God and Jesus, as was mentioned in the prologue of John in chapter 1.
John 1:1–5 ESV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There is within this prayer the knowledge that those who received the words that Jesus gave - are those whom God has given to Jesus, children of God!
John 17:8 ESV
8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
This points us back to the opening of John chapter 1, verse 12.
John 1:12 ESV
12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
We need to hear what it means to be Jesus disciples:
John 8:31–32 ESV
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
And how others will know that we are Jesus’ disciples:
John 17:20–21 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.
John 13:35 ESV
35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
So here in lies a question. How, as Christians can we demonstrate this unity in a pluralistic society? How, do we as Christians, live out our faith when there are those in our communities with whom we vehemently disagree? These people are not only in our communities, they’re in our churches, and perhaps in our own families!
Divisiveness seems to be the theme today. As we begin (or perhaps better put - continue) in our political season towards what have been deemed mid-term elections. We’re going to see our two major political parties seeking our attention, seeking to sway our beliefs, seeking to get us to side with them.
Tim Keller, Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church wrote an editorial piece in the New York Times titled, “How Do Christians Fit Into the Two-Party System? They Don’t.” In that article he speaks of a friend who “realized that thoughtful Christians, all trying to obey God’s call, could reasonably appear at different places on the political spectrum, with loyalties to different political strategies.” I’ve posted the article on our facebook page.
Years ago upon moving to a new call I sat down with another pastor, and was very surprised to have her ask me my views on very divisive issues. We were both pastors. We were both Christians. We were both opinionated. We both held strong convictions. We both had a good grasp of the Scriptures. Yet we both disagreed on many of those issues and here we were sitting in a grocery/cafe in a very small town in full public view.
Imagine the conflict that could have arisen. Imagine the scene we could have created.
The conversation was deep, rich, and enlightening. Both of us gained a deeper understanding of one another and I believe the issues at hand. I don’t know that either of us were swayed in our opinion but I do know that our relationship was better for having that discussion. We were able to come together around some of those very issues though often for decidedly different reasons.
In this prayer, Jesus does not pray for the world, though we know that he came that the world might be saved through him. He does however make several references to the fact that we - his disciples and followers seeking to glorify God - are “not of the world” but we are indeed, “in the world.”
John 17:15–16 ESV
15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
As we seek to be unified, perhaps the best verses we could apply come from John’s first epistle letter, 4:7-12
1 John 4:7–12 ESV
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
Beloved, let us be one as Jesus and God the Father are one. Beloved, let us love one another. AMEN.
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