Monday, June 17, 2013

Christ Prayed for Believers' Unity (Jn. 17:17-23)

Passage: John 17:17-23

There are 3 things that make us holy: the truth which is the word of God, the cleansing blood of Christ’s blood, and the work of the Holy Spirit.  Other than these 3 principles, nothing else sanctifies us.

Particularly in this passage Jesus prayed, Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” (Jn. 17:17).  The truth of God sanctifies us.  However, further Jesus said, “For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” (Jn. 17:19)

How can Jesus be sanctified since He is sinless? 

Jesus does not need the process of sanctification like we do.  He is eternally holy.  In this passage, it is not the same kind of sanctification process as the saints.  It is the principle relating to the fact that He is unchanging and He is always holy.  He is set apart eternally, distinctively holy.  He sanctifies Himself, means He preserves the essense of His holiness, it does not mean He needs the process to become holy.  The angel told Mary that the One she conceived is the Holy One.  He is the Holy One who entered the created world, the fallen world, the visible world, to be the manifestation of the Invisible God.

Also, why did Jesus say He sanctified Himself for them (His disciples)? 

It means He has become an example.  When they see Jesus, they see the Father.  He bring them to the Father.  And He becomes an example for the saints to imitate. 

In the second part of His intercession, Jesus prayed: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  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. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”  (Jn. 17:20-23)

Initially Jesus prayed for His 11 disciples.  Then He prayed for all future believers.  In this passage is the principle of the importance to continue preaching the gospel.  If the church understand this principle the church will not be stagnant. 

And the content of Christ’s prayer for the disciples and all believers is unity.  But what kind of unity?  There are different kinds of unity.  The union between the Father and the Son is substantial union, unity in essence.  Then there is unity between God and man, through our union with Christ, which is trans-organisational.  It is a spiritual, organic union, mysterious and eternal union.  Another kind of union is the unity among fellow men.  This is the unity Christ was praying for. 

There are three major principles of Christian unity:  (1) unity in the name of the Lord (2) unity through the word of God and (3) unity for the glory of God in Christ

Firstly, we are united under the name of the Lord.  God’s name awakens us to holiness, to walk in righteousness, to glorify Him.  We should only seek unity with people who honour the name of the Lord.  Those who fear the Lord will honour Him.

Secondly, we are united on the basis of the truth of God.  The word of God test and refines us.  Our great duty is to listen to the word of God.  On what basis do we come here together?  We are united in the holy Word.

Thirdly, we are united for the glory of God.  Jesus said “I have given them the glory you gave Me, that they may be one as we are one” (Jn. 17:22)  God says He will not give His glory to false gods.  Only God is worthy.  The word “worthy” is only used of God and Christ.  We often give glory to those who are not worthy. 

In what matters are we united?  We are united in God’s name, on the basis of His word, and in all matters in giving glory to Him.