Jesus’s Pastoral Prayer

That All of Them May Be One

My prayer is not for [the disciples] 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.” John 17:20-21

My husband and I have been listening to sermons by a young pastor who was diagnosed with brain cancer and given two or three years to live. Somehow his words have greater significance because we know the diagnosis came two years ago. We gulped when he said, “if I come to this conference in a year, Lord willing, some of you won’t be alive.”

If we knew we only had a few years to say important things to our loved ones, what would we say?

At the Last Supper Jesus weighed his words carefully–especially his final prayer. He knew he had only a few more hours with his disciples before he would die on the cross. Judas had already gone to betray him.

All Jesus’s words to his disciples apply to us too, but towards the end of the prayer he addressed us directly: “those who will believe in me through their message.”

He prayed that God would be glorified because we are all unified. Unity seems to be just beyond our reach sometimes. The devil tempts us to gossip, to backbite, and to argue over divisive issues. The only way we can achieve unity is “in Jesus” through the power of the Holy Spirit–God in us, we in God, one with each other. When that happens, the world sees it and knows that God accomplished it.

Jesus comforted the disciples, promising to be with them and to love them just as he loved them in these last moments. Later, before he ascended to Heaven, he promised, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

Jesus prayed, and I believe he is still praying, that we would be one with him and with each other as he and his Father are one.

Do you feel alone right now? You are not!  God is drawing you to himself. Oneness with others comes from oneness with God. You may have to get rid of obstacles that block your relationship with God. Just as you would build any relationship, you need to spend time with God and listen to him. Out of this unity with the Father and Jesus through the Spirit will flow unity with Christian brothers and sisters.

This prayer and the others Jesus prayed can be models for all of us Christians as we pray for others.

Dig Deeper

Read all of Jesus’s prayer in John 17:1-26. What does he pray about himself and his Father in verses 2-8? Why do you think he included those words in his prayer?

What does he pray about his disciples in John 17:9-26? How do those requests relate to us? What are some other things he prayed we would receive?

Read John 1:9-14. When Jesus’s disciple John wrote his gospel many years after the Last Supper, what words from Jesus’s prayer do you hear echoed in his words?

Nancy J. Baker

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