I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, 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. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
This is Good Friday, derived from the Old English, “God’s Friday”. Make no mistake about it, this is God’s day. God is in control. Jesus sees beyond a mere handful of disciples to pray for multitudes across the centuries who will believe in Him. This part of Jesus’ prayer should be especially precious to us in the 21st century. Jesus prays “on behalf of those who will believe” through the “word” of failed disciples made new.
Twice Jesus prays for you and for me, that we might be one: “that they may all be one…so that they may be one”. In this, Jesus prays for the kind of oneness that He enjoys with His Father: “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us”. On numerous occasions Jesus has spoken of His oneness with the Father. It is a kind of oneness that Father and Jesus long to impart to us. In the same way Father lives in Jesus, and Jesus lives in Father, Jesus lives in us and unites us together to Father!
Jesus prays for us to live out our oneness. He prays for a tangible, visible oneness that the world can see. They need to see our unity, Jesus says, “so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me”.
Philosopher Francis Schaeffer calls this visible oneness of Christians “the final apologetic”, or, the proof for the Gospel we would proclaim. Writing in The Mark of the Christian, Schaeffer comments on Jesus’ prayer: “We cannot expect the world to believe that the Father sent the Son, that Jesus’ claims are true, and that Christianity is true, unless the world sees some reality of the oneness of true Christians.”
Perhaps it is in our local congregations that we first need to live out our oneness. It is where we meet in Jesus’ name that a watching world most often encounters Jesus’ friends. What do they see as they watch us? What do they see in the way we handle our differences? Our disagreements? Our hurt feelings and slights? Will they know that we are Christians by our love? Will they see the oneness that will lead them to believe that Jesus was sent by the Father? Will they see the oneness leading them to believe that the Father loves them as He loves His own Son? For this Jesus urgently prays! For this the Father longs! So must we!
And we, being many, are one body in Messiah,
And everyone, members of one another,
Loving each other,
With God as our Father,
Who loves us as a mother,
loves her newborn child.
What are there in Jesus’ words today to know; to feel; to do?