John 17 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. I love this passage because it gives us a rare glimpse into the prayer life of Jesus, and if we should study and agree with anyone’s prayers, it should be His.
One question I’ve always wondered is this: of all the possible things to pray for, why does Jesus pray for ONE-NESS and UNITY for all of His disciples and future disciples (v.20-23)?
He could’ve prayed for so many different things (great faith, boldness, anointing, power etc), but why does He pray for one-ness?
And more importantly, why is one-ness in the body of Christ the strongest evidence to the world of who Jesus is (v. 23) ??
He didn’t say signs, wonders, healings, or resurrection would be the greatest witness to the world, although those things do confirm the preaching of the Gospel. He said that by the way we love one another, by the way we are one, just as Jesus and the Father are one, the world will know that the Father sent Jesus (John 13:34-35).
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Whatever the reason may be, I believe that Jesus’ prayers are going to be answered. The closer we get to His return, I believe we will see this prayer for “complete unity” in His family become more and more of a reality. After all, Jesus is the best intercessor. So the question for us is this: how do we come into agreement with Jesus’ prayer for our lives and our spiritual families?
I also wonder if this prayer is the reason why there is such a deep heart cry for family and meaningful relationships, particularly in my generation. Research after research shows that of all the previous generations, millennials are desperate for meaningful connections around purposeful work that they are passionate about. Often times, it’s been the reason why millennials can’t hold down a job for too long, and there are undoubtedly some more negative behaviors associated with this trait. We have unhealthily and unrealistically looked to people to fill our needs that only Christ can meet. But is it a coincidence that the generation that can potentially see the finishing of the Great Commission in our lifetime simultaneously has the deepest desire for family around a purpose they are passionate about?
We are currently seeing an unusually strong emphasis on family and community even in the body of Christ. So many major ministries and movements are experiencing a divine interruption from the Father, to realign us back to the value of family. It is what is on His heart! What if it’s not just an immature and selfish desire of an entitled generation, but an indication of Jesus fulfilling his own prayers in John 17?
I believe that God can redeem the negative traits of my generation and use it to beautifully display His family like never before! I believe the cry for authentic and meaningful community, when aligned to God’s definition and expression of family, will cause us to be the greatest witness to a lost and dying world. And what is all this unto? John 17:1
17 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.”
The glorification of the Son! Family and unity must be unto a greater vision beyond ourselves.
Community can never be the goal – the end goal must be making Jesus known. He must be THE greatest passion around which we have the GREATEST relationships. As the Father helps us figure out what His family looks like, may Jesus be glorified in us and revealed to the world like never before.