Christ's Prayer For His Church - John 17
In this amazing prayer Christ prayed in verses 11 and 21 that His church would be "One in Him just as he and His father are one." Few verses in the bible have been brutalized and misinterpreted more than these.
Some have interpreted this to mean that we should all think, dress and act alike. The ecumenical movement has used these verses to push for a merger of all denominations into one super denomination.
Let me assure you that Christ was not concerned with anything as trivial as these. His concern was much deeper and significant. How are Christ and His Father one? They are one in character, in purpose and activity.
Jesus and His Father were one in holiness. His purpose was to glorify the Father. They united to bring about a plan of redemption for lost humanity.
This is Christ's prayer for each of us. He desires that we would be holy as He is holy and that we would always seek to glorify the Father in all that we say and do. He is counting on us to take the story of redemption, through the power of the Holy Spirit to the entire world. He has commissioned us to take the gospel to every tongue, tribe and Nation. May God help us to never get sidetracked from this magnificent commission.
Jesus also prayed in verse 13, "That they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves." The joy of the Lord is our strength. Not our rules and regulations, however important they might be.
The New Testament church was characterized by the fact that they praised God daily. I have to believe that had a lot to do with the fact that they added to the church daily. There is something very winsome and compelling about a joyful Christian. It needs greater expression in our daily lives. Paul said, "Rejoice always."
In verse 15 Jesus prayed, "I do not pray that you should take them out of the world but that you should keep them from the evil one."
We are Christ's ambassadors to this world. He has placed us in this world but prays that the world would not be in us.
It's like a boat and water, they belong together. The boat should be kept in the water to fulfill its purpose. However, if the water gets in the boat it will sink.
We cannot withdraw from the world and accomplish our task of evangelizing the world. But if the world gets in us our effectiveness is shattered.
In verse 17 Jesus prays, "Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth." This is the main thrust and purpose of the entire prayer. Here, Jesus suddenly moves into the imperative, aorist tense and is saying, "Father you really must sanctify them." It is the fervent, burning desire of Christ that every born again Christian would be sanctified.
Sanctification is much more than consecration. Consecration is something we can and must do. Sanctification is something God does in us and for us that we could never do for ourselves. He cleanses our heart from its sinful disposition and fills us with the Holy Spirit.
Finally in verse 24 He prays, "Father I desire that they also, whom you gave me, be with me where I am that they may behold my glory which you have given me." The passionate desire of our Lord is that we would be with Him thru-out all eternity to behold His glory. When we see Him face to face we will be made like Him.
William Dyke was ten years of age when he was blinded in an accident. In spite of His disability he graduated with honors from the University of England. He fell in love with the daughter of a high ranking British navel officer and they made plans to be married.
Shortly before the wedding William had eye surgery with the hope that his sight would be restored. If the surgery failed he would be blind the rest of his life. He insisted on keeping the bandages on his eyes until his wedding day. He wanted the first person that he saw to be his new bride.
The wedding day arrived. The Doctor stood at Williams' side. When the bride reached his side the doctor removed the bandages. Tension filled the sanctuary and people held their breath. William blinked several times and suddenly exclaimed, "Oh, you are more beautiful than I ever imagined."
One glad morning the bandages will be removed from our eyes and we will see Jesus face to face. His magnificence will be far more splendid than anything we have imagined. We will behold Him in all of His glory. What a day, glorious day that will be.