Last words are important. The very last words of someone’s life seem to carry extra importance. This is one of the reasons John is one of my favorite books of the Bible; he gives nearly 10 chapters in his 21-chapter book to tell the story of the last week of Jesus’ life. Chapters 14-16 basically outline the last main conversation He had with His disciples. Chapter 17 is one of my personal favorite chapters as Jesus, still in the presence of His disciples, shifts His focus onto His Father in prayer. He prays about himself, thanking God for the work He has done through Him in His time on earth. He prays for His disciples there present with them. He wraps up by praying for “those who would come to know Jesus because of the word of the disciples there”… in essence, he prays for US!
These last words not only are significant, there seems to be a theme that comes out in them. Here are a few select verses from Jesus’ prayer:
“… that they may all be one, just as you, Father are in me, and I in you, that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. … that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you send me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:21-23)
In just 3 verses we see time after time after time again where Jesus desires them to “be one” or describes His own “oneness” with the Father. In a word, he’s praying for:
What I find most interesting about this is that He says that unity is the way in which people will know about Jesus’ love. And it makes sense when you think about it logically. Yet, sadly, in practice, unity is hard for us humans. Satan gets us to focus on the differences, how we might do something better, or simply how “the other person/group of people is wrong!” I have literally had young people tell me that one of the reasons they don’t want to be Christian is because, “if the Christians can’t even get along with each other, why would I want to be part of that?” It all happens so quick… an under-the-breath comment, one word of gossip, one email with misinterpreted tone-of-voice … and division is present.
Today, I give up division and disunity.
Jesus, rather than looking so much at each other, help us your children, keep our eyes on You alone. Unite our focus on the things that matter most and leave the rest up to You. Give us courage to resolve conflict, honesty and humility to confront each other when necessary, and above all, Your sacrificial generous love for each other. Through our love for each other, may those who don’t know You, witness Your unifying love!