Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
(7/19) I want to invite you, if you have a Bible, or can grab one from around you, to turn to John chapter 17. We’re going to look at a very important prayer of Jesus’. It’s the Lord’s Prayer… it’s his vision of the Church. And in this series we’ve been exploring what the church is, why it exists, and what it means for us. So we want to see God’s
vision for the Church come alive in our lives, because to know and love Jesus is to know and love his church. So today I want us to get our minds and our hearts around what unity looks like, and what can we do to participate in the unity that Jesus wants us to have.
Now, if you’ll turn to John chapter 17, this whole chapter is a prayer that Jesus prays right before his death. It’s an important prayer and it’s divided into three categories. First Jesus prays for himself, that he would bring glory to God the Father. Then Jesus prays for the apostles and leaders that are going to help build his church after his
ascension into heaven by the power of the Holy Spirit. And then, believe it or not, two thousand years ago, Jesus prays for us here today in Emmitsburg Md.
Look with me at John 17, verse 20, let’s begin there, this is Jesus praying to his Father in heaven… "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 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. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25 "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." NIV
Now if someone were to tell you that the Bible revealed that Jesus had a favorite sport, you might be skeptical. But it’s actually very obvious, according to the Bible that Jesus’ favorite sport is baseball, because the Bible begins with the words "in the big inning."
If I told you that Jesus had a favorite number, maybe you might have a few ideas come to mind, maybe you’ve even heard it discussed before, and so you’re thinking like the number three… or seven… or twelve… or forty… but let me assure you before you get too carried away in speculation… that Jesus favorite number was one! And there is ample biblical
evidence to make my case.
Let me just ask you, in the Creation account, how many ribs did God use to make woman?
"He took One of the man's ribs" (Gen 2:21).
God said, "A man will …be united to his wife, and they will become what? "…One flesh" (Gen 2:24).
Moses cried out, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is… One" (Deut 6:4).
In the beginning of the New Testament, Magi, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the ONE who has been born king of the Jews?" (Matt 2:2).
Jesus said it this way, "One greater than the temple is here" (Matt 12:6).
Jesus is concerned about "the ONE that wandered off" (Matt 18:12-13).
He replies, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good" (Matt 19:17).
Jesus said, "You have only ONE Master" (Matt 23:8). "You have ONE Father and he is in heaven… you have ONE Teacher, the Christ" (Matt 23:9-10).
So Jesus talks all the time about the number one.
"The ONE who comes from above is above all" (John 3:31).
"The ONE whom God has sent speaks the words of God" (John 3:34).
As a matter of fact, he talks about his relationship to the Father saying, "I and the Father are ONE" (John 10:30).
Today I want to talk to you about Christian oneness. And one thing I really want to do is to dispel the myth about unity. You see unity is not something that we achieve, it’s a gift we receive. And so today, we’re going to see that our oneness really has everything to do with Jesus relationship with his Father in heaven.
1. That All Of Them May Be One
And Jesus prays this prayer right before his death… at this most important, critical stage in his earthly life, and therefore, we should pay attention to what he asks for. Here it is, in verse 21, "That they may all be," what? "One." There’s that number again. "Father, just as you are in me and I am in you." May they also be "one as we are one." So
this oneness that God desires… this oneness that Jesus prays for… is a oneness, a unity, that we find modeled in his relationship with the Father. The very unity that Jesus wants us to have as his followers is modeled in the relationship that Jesus has with his Father.
Now the Bible teaches this about God: that God is One God, revealed as three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This means that the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Holy Spirit, but they are of one essence. By that I mean that the Father’s in the Son, the Son’s in the Father, the Son’s in the Spirit, the Spirit’s in the Son,
and the Spirit’s in the Father. And so what Jesus is saying here is that he wants us to know the same oneness that he experiences with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. A perfect uninterrupted relationship that’s defined by love, care, and respect.
But not only does Jesus model for us the type of oneness that he wants for the church, he also makes it a reality, because he accomplishes it by being in us. Christ in us brings about the oneness that he desires. Jesus in us achieves the answer to this prayer. The Bible teaches that all those who turn from sin and trust in Jesus are filled with the
Holy Spirit. Romans 8 makes it very clear that those who belong to Jesus actually have the Spirit of Christ in them. At verse 9, "You are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." So Jesus lives in us and in John’s Gospel, verse 22, he prayed, "I
have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one." And so that very oneness that Jesus is praying for us to have, he actually achieves by living us.
So therefore, unity is a gift we receive and not a status we achieve. It’s not anything we’ve done, but it’s our identity in Christ. He’s done all the work and he says, "I have given them the glory that you gave me" So we’ve merely responded to Jesus’ grace through repentance; by turning away from sin, trusting in his death on the cross, his
resurrection from the dead, and receiving him as our Lord and Savior through the Holy Spirit. And if Jesus lives in us by the Holy Spirit, we’re united with Jesus, we’re united together. We are one. And all that’s left for us to do is to believe and live out the reality that Jesus has already provided for us. That together we might experience the same type of oneness that
Jesus enjoys with God the Father and God the Spirit.
2. I Have Made You Known To Them
Now, as we look at the relationship that Jesus has with his Father, I see another dimension of that oneness. Another dimension of unity that Jesus wants us to experience and enjoy together as members of his Church. Here’s what I mean, verse 26, "I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me
may be in them and that I myself may be in them" (John 17:26).
Now when you and I tend to think of eternal life, we tend to think in terms of quantity, right? It’s a life without end. And although that’s true, when Jesus thinks in terms of eternal life, he defines it as a quality of life. And that life is defined by continually knowing the only true God through Jesus Christ, the one he sent. That’s amazing. It’s
In Genesis, we are told of a man named Enoch who lived 365 years and had many sons and daughters. Now that’s not to unusual right? But what is so startling is this verse, "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away" (Genesis 5:24). That sobering phrase "and he died" isn't used of Enoch, because he was taken to heaven alive.
Hebrews 11:5 tells us, it was "by faith" that Enoch was taken to heaven. He knew God, was known by God, and went to be with God, leaving an example for us to follow.
The point I want to make is that to "know God" doesn’t simply mean intellectual knowledge, it’s not knowing facts about God, what it means is a deep, personal, experiential knowledge of God. God, the only true God, is a personal God, who knows us and he wants to make himself known to us, that we might know him fully through Jesus Christ.
And so, in verse 24, Jesus prays, "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world" (John 17:24).
Now just think about that for a moment. What an amazing statement of your worth in the eyes of God. Do you see what he just said? "I want those you have given me to be with me." Jesus acknowledges that those who come to him in faith, those like Enoch, are a gift to him by God the Father. So in the same way, you are a gift from God the Father to God the
Son. Isn’t that amazing?
The apostle Paul introduces his letter to the church in Ephesus, expressing this same truth saying, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world…" (Ephesians 1:3-4).
With amazing, divine, fore-knowledge God the Father gave you to the Son who prayed for us, look again at verse 23, "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (John 17:23). Here’s the third point, we’ve been known and called so that the world would know God the Father and
Jesus Christ whom he sent.
3. Let The World Know That You Sent Me
What Jesus is saying here is that there’s never been a time when God the Father didn’t love him. So He prays, "Father you’ve loved me forever and ever; and the love that we share with each other, I want that to be in my followers."
Jesus prayer here is that you and I and everyone who loves Jesus, everyone who belongs to Jesus, would be with him forever. And as we’re with him, as we experience the glory of Jesus in perfect relationship throughout all eternity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. As they love each other, we would love each other. As they enjoy each other, we would
enjoy each other. As they serve each other, we would serve each other. As they respect each other, we would respect each other. So Jesus wants us to know and experience that relationship and he prays that we would be brought to complete unity to let the world know that God the Father sent him and has loved them just as he has loved His own Son (John 17:23).
And so Jesus makes this oneness, this unity of relationship, very clear as he prays this prayer, and even more so a couple chapters later in John 20:21, he says, "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you" (John 20:21). "Just as the Father has sent me into the world, I send you into the world." So it is an inescapable fact, a calling, that the Church
is on a mission, and it’s a mission that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit live out in unity. It’s a rescue mission, a mission were Jesus is coming to pursue people who are alienated from God, to save them, transform them, and convert them from people in rebellion against God, to people who worship God through him.
And so He goes out of his way, especially in the Gospel of John, 34 times he says over and over, "The Father sent me. The Father sent me. The Father sent me." So Jesus, the Son of God, enters human history as a missionary. He takes on human form. He walks our soil. He breathes our air. He speaks our language. He lives in our cultural context. He’s
human in every way, except one significant way, he’s without sin.
You see only the sinless Son of God can redeem a lost world. Only the sinless Son of God can save sinners… transform sinners into saints… into those who are set apart for God, and those who worship God. So Jesus hangs out and pursues relationships with people who are far away from God all for the purpose, according to Jesus, to "seek and to save what
was lost" (Luke 19:10).
You and I may have different roles to play, but it’s his mission; and there’s one mission at Christ’s Community Church and Jesus says this most clearly to his followers in Matthew 28. He says, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I
have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20). So at Christ’s Community Church we have one mission and it’s the same mission that every church that follows Jesus has. And that is that we want to make disciples, followers of Jesus, because that’s what Jesus told us to do. And if we are going to live out the unity that Jesus wants us to have, then all of us without exception are
missionaries on mission with Jesus. So I encourage you to get involved, to jump right in, and don’t miss out on the gift of oneness that Jesus wants us to enjoy together. Join the mission of Christ’s Community Church as we’re experiencing together the most incredible adventure anyone can ever experience.
You see because, Jesus is showing up in a big way, and we have front row seats to see lives transformed in our homes, our work places, and in our weekly gatherings. Jesus is changing lives and he invites you to join in. And we want you to join in as well because there’s great joy, there’s great excitement about being on mission together with Jesus.
Joining in that perfect relationship he had with the Father and the Holy Spirit. There is perfect oneness and God invites you in to their unity, to be on mission with Jesus. Will you?
When the church… when you and I come together, what we’re really doing is we’re practicing, we’re getting ready, and we’re partially fulfilling the answer to the prayer that Jesus prayed. When we all come together, and we proclaim Jesus, what we’re really saying is, "We are previewing the kingdom of God in all its fullness." There will come a day when
this prayer will be answered. When we’re all together with Jesus, in perfect relationship with Jesus. And Jesus’ glory is made known, and we will worship him.
The only time this relational unity between the Father and the Son was ever interrupted was momentarily, on the cross, when Jesus cries out these words, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" That moment when Jesus took the sin of the world upon himself. And that’s what sin does. It separates us from God, and it separates us from each other. But
Jesus on that same cross said, "It is finished." The work is done and we belong to Jesus. We are reconciled with God, and we are reconciled with each other.
And so there is great value in us coming together and experiencing the love that Jesus has for God the Father and God the Spirit. We experience the relationship that Jesus has with his Father when we’re together. When we’re together in worship.
This morning, I’d like to invite you to activate this gift that Jesus has already given you. Repent from your sins, turn to Jesus, and become be a part of what’s going on. It’s amazing. It’s a preview of what heaven will be like. Not perfect yet, but that’s the goal, we’re pressing towards that right? That’s the essence of what Jesus prayed for. And
you, in the power of the Holy Spirit, have an opportunity to fulfill the prayer of Jesus.
Do you see that? Do you see the unity that Jesus has given the church? If you do, then you have a decision to make. Will you accept Jesus love and receive the forgiveness that he offers you? You see if you’ll turn from your rebellion, if you’ll trust entirely in Jesus, he’s willing and able to forgive you and free you that you might become a worshiper
of Jesus. Would you do that now? Can we respond to God and worship together?
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