A couple of weeks ago, Justin preached on Jesus' High Priestly prayer in John 17. I loved the sermon, and was happy to transcribe it for him for use in his homiletics class at HBU. I wanted to post a portion for you today.
Here's the text from verses 20-21:
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.
Here's a bit of the transcribed sermon:
The first statement is this: “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You.”
For Jesus to accomplish His mission of glorifying the Father, we must all be one. This is not to say that the success of Jesus' mission is in any way contingent on us, or our faithfulness. It is not. He is not dependent on us in any way. If we do not do our job, the rocks will cry out. He is sovereign over all things, every aspect of our lives. But He chooses to use us in very specific and deliberate ways, for our joy, and His ultimate glory. He chooses us as His means of glorifying the Father. Unity, or community, is of the highest priority to Jesus.
This unity is not defined by our past or present experience of "togetherness." Rather, it is defined by the Trinity. In verse 21 Jesus says "I want my followers, not only these disciples here, but all of those who will believe because of their word, to be one, just as You and I are one." So we take our cue from the Trinity. In the way that the Trinity is one, so are we to be. (....) Jesus is saying, "Do not judge your oneness, your connectedness to fellow Christians, by your own standards. I am giving you the standard. The standard is the Trinity. Just as I exist in community with the Father and the Spirit, so are you to dwell in unity with your fellow believers."
Second statement is this: “So that they also may be in Us.”
This is why He wants us to be together with other people. He wants us to live in unity, SO THAT, we can have community with God. "...that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us."
Our oneness with each other, which should look like the oneness that the Father has with the Son and Spirit, RESULTS IN our oneness with the Father, Son, and Spirit. Our abiding in God is a result of our faithfulness to abide with each other. Jesus says, "You need to be one just as we are one, so that you can be one with Us."
Many people espouse the belief that "You don't have to go to church to be a Christian." That's true enough, in one sense. Going to church and being connected to community is not salvific. It does not produce salvation in you. But, it does produce in you this eternal life that can begin now. This eternal life that Jesus is speaking of is not something that begins at death. It's something you participate in now. There are things to be cultivated, ways to make it happen, and ways to kill it. Jesus comes that we may have life and have it abundantly, but there is a thief, and he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He cannot take away your salvation, but he wants to take away your current experience of eternal life. John says earlier that this thief is the ruler of the world. He won't be for long, but for now he is our enemy. We must be connected with each other if we want to remain connected with God.
Here's the third statement, the final result as Jesus sees it. Verse 21: “that they also may be in Us, SO THAT the world may believe that You sent me.”
Jesus has built progression into this verse: You need to do this, so that you can do this, so that you can do this.
Jesus is about to die. He is entrusting His mission to his disciples. He has promised to indwell them with the Spirit. Now He is praying to the Father for His disciples, that their work may be fruitful, and so that their joy may be full. "I want them to be in community with each other so that they will be in community with Us. I want them to be in Us so that the world will believe."
Many of us disregard this aspect of our mission. Our unity, our connectedness both here and with believers across the world, produces faith in nonbelievers. It results in the faith of nonbelievers. Jesus repeats Himself in verse 23, "I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." This idea of community as mission, community as evangelism.
OK, I know this is a long post. Bless you for reading this far.
So why Mother's Day? What does this have to do with us?
We are often the foot soldiers, doing the groundwork to build the unity. Every potluck dish, every prayer meeting, the Christmas parties, the phone calls and emails, these things are the work of the gospel. They are not marginal, irrelevant to the "real work." In these verses they are commissioned, sanctified, by Christ Himself. As we unify our family, we are teaching our little ones about the Trinity! This is the beginning of eternal life. As our church community draws together in fellowship (around my pot roast!) they are drawing near to Christ, and demonstrating Him to the world.
It's not just a casserole anymore.