6 “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
I love rock climbing as many of you know. I have missed it quite a bit lately. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that rock climbing is very relational. I have a couple of friends I really trust that I climb with. When we climb on a big rock, we are connected to each other literally. When one is climbing, another is on the ground “belaying” or holding the rope the climber is on ready to break the climber’s fall if he loses his grip. Our safety, our lives, depend on our equipment and each other. The two of us have to communicate and work together in order to achieve our goal of getting to the top of that rock!
Today’s text says a lot about trust and working together, of striving towards friendship. It’s filled with Jesus’ last prayers found in the Gospel of John. I believe it was important to him and has great meaning for us.
Our passage in John has much to say about unity. Our unity starts with an understanding that all is from God. God has created everything. God has made God’s dwelling in us, with us, and around us. This God is ever expanding around us and as we grow beyond ourselves, we can then begin to understand that our call is to be disciples of Jesus, following God’s Spirit into the world around us, where God is already filling, or has filled with his Presence.
Jesus is praying for us, his disciples, those of us willing to grow, to change, to be impacted by our relationship with Jesus and Jesus’ love for the other in John 17. We are called to carry on Jesus’ mission to be God’s living Presence in this world.
Verse 11 calls us to remember that Jesus’ name is placed upon us, that we are marked by Jesus. Because of this, we do have unity, but we don’t always live in that unity. We are not always one. Yet, we yearn for this oneness, this unity. We are hardwired for it.
A few years back, Bono, the lead singer for the band u2 wrote these words:
You got to do what you should
With each other
But we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other
We are not the same, we are created as beautifully diverse in thoughts, opinions, shapes, sizes, color, preferences, etc. Yet, we can still be one. We can still live in unity as we are marked by a God who lives in perfect unity. Jesus is the word, the expression of God. Jesus lived this out and calls us towards maturity in faith, not grumbling, gossiping, or complaining, but to the deeper stuff of understanding, trust, patience, peace, self-control rather than “others control”, and love. We have to carry each other. I have to carry you, and there will be a time when YOU have to carry me.
Friends, the folks in this community are waiting. I’m listening, I’m hearing a lot. So are others in our church. We all want this church to be that place of diversity and unity and oneness loving the neighborhood well.
Yet, we know that a church, any church, can also not be places of unity. It’s mostly not intentional, but we sometimes can’t seem to live in the unity that God’s given us.
But, what I’m committed to and what I believe we are all committed to in this time and place. We want to move towards a new story, living in a new promise rooted in the nature of Jesus, in the nature of what God intended for us as the church, as his disciples.
Listen to the next few verses in John.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
In this text, Jesus had just finished praying for his disciples and now he was praying for all of those who would believe in him because of his disciples’ message. His prayer was for believers, for each of us in this room. He wants us to be so together, that we are one. Jesus was giving us a great picture of his relationship with God the Father. They were intimate, together, of the same essence or being, so unified that they were one. Jesus was giving us that picture of the relationship of God within the Trinity. This text says to us today that the core of God’s being is relational and that Jesus is calling us into a deep and intimate relationship with this God.
We cannot be a part of the Trinity, as we are not God, but we can be in relationship with God through Jesus’ giving to us his life. Jesus is the one who was completely divine and completely human; he is the one who sacrificed his life for us so that we may be one with him.
Jesus prays his desire, his will, for us to be one so that the world may know that he was sent by God the Father. By our being one with God and each other, the world may know and experience the love of God as they see our unity.
When I was a kid in the 70’s, my dad was a volunteer youth director at our church, I remember hearing the youth group kids sing a song with the chorus, “they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love”.
Friends, we have a God who loves us so much and has done everything to show us love, even becoming just like us. Jesus breathed his Spirit upon us, God gave us the power of God’s Spirit to unify us. God’s power and love transforms us as it brings us into relationship with God, making us one with God and with each other. This world needs to see that love, and they will through our unity, our oneness. Yep, as I’ve said before, I’m stuck with you and you are stuck with me forever, and that’s a long time. We might as well trust God and get on with letting him form our community, a community marked by grace and unity, a community known as the body of Christ, the church. May we live into this prayer of Jesus of being one, just as he has demonstrated to us by being one with the Father and with us.