“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21)
Rejecting The Prayer Of Jesus
The moment of Jesus’ death was imminent, and Judas was gathering the soldiers and leaders to betray the Lord. Thursday night was filled with deep emotion for Jesus. He had taken His last Passover with His beloved twelve, announced the betrayal of Judas and Peter, and washed the feet of the apostles. Using the backdrop of the Passover feast, Jesus instituted the memorial of the feast that would unite the world under one banner of truth. The Lord’s final supper was to establish the nature and character of the kingdom. Through the sacrifice of Jesus and the blood of the cross, the church would be founded upon the eternal plan of the Father so the world would believe Jesus as the Son of God.
Following the supper and Judas leaving the upper room, Jesus and the eleven begin walking to Gethsemane. As they walk, Jesus continues to teach His disciples about the will of His Father. He offers a prayer for Himself and the eleven as they are unaware of what Judas is doing and how his actions will change the world. Jesus also prays for generations yet born. He sees beyond the scope of the cross to the day when the gospel will be preached in Jerusalem, and many will find salvation in His blood. Jesus knows the infant church will struggle as it grows, but the power of the gospel will touch thousands of hearts, and the joy of eternal life will be discovered. He knows all too well that Satan will weave his threads of apostasy into the church, and men will follow the wiles of deception. Jesus prays for all believers to be one, united under the single banner of His word and the will of the Father.
The prayer of Jesus is a powerful testimony to the desire of Christ for all believers to be one in Him. He never intended for a division to mar the character of the church. Those who believed in Jesus through the word in the first century only knew one church. There were no other churches, denominations, or faiths declaring Jesus as Lord. Paul would later declare there was only one body, one church. The world of the New Testament argued about how many gods there were, but there were no debates about how many churches. Paul standing on Mars Hill in Athens, was bold to declare there was one God. He never preached about the multiplicity of churches as the divine pattern of God. Reading the pages of the New Testament will show there was only one church and body of Christ.
Fifteen hundred years would pass before the apostasy turned a more productive turn. Within six hundred years of Pentecost, the mother of apostasy would be born in the Roman Catholic Church. From the womb of lies and false doctrine, protestant churches would spring from her belly as illegitimate children of an apostate mother. Churches began to multiply and stand under their own banners declaring allegiance to Christ. Religious leaders herald that all churches are one, but no unity exists. There is no unity in name, organization, method of membership, plan of salvation, or acceptance of the Bible as the word of God. The prayer Jesus offered on the night He was betrayed is now betrayed by a religious world filled with apostate churches.
Jesus prayed that all believers be one. Can anyone truthfully say the churches in any community are one? They may band together in a loose form of unity, but they return to their form of religion apart from the patterns of others. Can a Baptist be a Baptist in a Lutheran Church? Is it possible for a Methodist to be a Methodist in a Nazarene Church? Baptist worship as Baptist, Lutherans as Lutherans, Methodist as Methodist; and the list goes on. Jesus prayed that all those who believed in Him through the word be one. That unity is likened to the unity of Jesus and the Father. Through that unity, the world will come to know Jesus Christ. Because of the division clearly defined in modern-day religion, the world cannot know that Jesus is the Son of God.
The prayer of unity demands unity. Jesus prayed for unity, but men must obey His word to fulfill that prayer. Just because Jesus prayed for unity does not mean it automatically happens. His desire for all believers to be one must be met with obedient hearts willing to reject the false teachings of human wisdom and embrace the unity of God’s word. The world will be more receptive to the gospel when they see true believers living out the prayer of Jesus. Unite in the word of God. Reject the word of men.