John 17:20-26

There is something deeply encouraging to me about what Jesus says in His transition from praying for the Twelve to praying for all of those who would believe in Him.  He says our belief would be a direct result of the disciples’ message (John 17:20).  I don’t know about anyone else, but that speaks profoundly to my weak-willed soul.  Jesus knew they would desert Him in the next few hours.  But He also knew that they would return to Him, and they would stake the rest of their lives on the next day’s events.  And they would bear much fruit.  He is the God of second chances, isn’t He? 

But this part of Jesus’ prayer focuses mostly on the rest of us, the ones who “have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).  And what strikes me most about Jesus’ petitions on our behalf is that they are primarily for the unity of the Church.  “That they may be one” (John 17:21-22).  “That they may be brought to complete unity” (John 17:23). 

And why?

…so that the world may believe that you [God] have sent me.  (John 17:21)

…to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.  (John 17:23)

There is something about people who would not otherwise get along being reconciled to each other.  It demonstrates to observers that they have a common purpose, a common enemy, and a common Savior. 

I think Jesus was trying to get at a few things in these word, one of which is that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25).  And a body is no longer a body if is divided up into parts (I Cor. 12:25).

The way self-professed followers of Jesus relate to each other – both in local churches and worldwide – speaks volumes to those watching.  

We are the Body of Christ. 

Do our lives demonstrate that Jesus is who He claimed to be?

No one has ever seen God.  But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.  (I John 4:12, NLT)

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