google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html Gems in the Gospel of John - Part 72

Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 72 - John 17:21


Now, after praying for himself and his apostolic band Jesus prays for all those who will follow his teaching passed on to them from the apostles. That is – for you and me! Have you got that – Jesus prayed for you? It is so easy to overlook the enormity of that. But that is what he said: “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”. That is hard to get your mind round properly. What did he mean when he used that simple little word ‘in’? It is not too hard to understand in that Jesus and God were ‘in’ each other but how can we possibly be ‘in’ Jesus and God. That kind of identity with some one else is particularly hard for Westerners with their culture’s great emphasis on individuality to get their minds round.

The only place in our culture where we get anything like that level of group solidarity seems to be in football team supporters (of whatever sort of football). It would not be at all surprising to hear one Manchester United (ManU) supporter say to another, “we have never been the same since Alex Ferguson retired!” but the big question in that statement is ‘who are ‘we’? Neither of the supporters will be likely to have ever played for ManU; neither of them may even be members of the supporters club, or have any significant connection to the team except for turning up at some of their home games – and maybe not even that. Yet the level of identification with ManU is such that ‘we’ is the appropriate pronoun. (And I am sure you can replace ManU with some other team identifier – at least if you are male!) Why? It is something to do with the sense of personal identification of the supporters. They are solid in support of ‘their’ club, hence the use of the word ‘solidarity’ to express this sense.

I am sure you will see where I am going. It is that sense of solidarity that Jesus is praying may be ours.

Unfortunately some Christians have seized on these verses and interpreted them as a command to bring churches together in an organisational sense, rather than a spiritual one. The result has been the World Council of Churches, which has had a very chequered career. Churches that give all authority to scripture tend to keep away from that organisation but, if you have ever been abroad and reliant on Christians from other churches, you will know that the label we bear is of little significance compared to our allegiance to the Lord.

There is one other important thing to note in these last few verses of his prayer. Jesus tells us what the glue is that makes this level of solidarity possible. It is love. The sort of love we looked at a few weeks ago. Love which starts with steady development as we move into the area of this sort of Jesus based love, and then moves on to action and great deepening. The love which comes down from him to us and that we must then allow to spill out sideways from us to other people, the rest of the world.

Finally, note the result: if there is even a small amount of this in our experience we shall see his glory, “the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (17: 24)<

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