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  • Butch Bryant

John 17:20-23 One Big Happy Family?

Updated: May 30, 2019

20 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 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. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Our passage is part of Jesus' High Priestly Prayer offered on Jesus' last evening before His crucifixion. That evening initiated with the Passover meal (Last Supper) ends with His arrest. In John 17, Jesus prays for Himself, His disciples, and then for all believers (our passage.) Beginning in verse 20, Jesus begins to pray for all believers designated as "those who will believe in Me through their word." "Their" refers to the disciples. All believers heard the gospel either directly or indirectly through the witness of the disciples soon to be known as the Apostles. In verse 21, Jesus prays for the unity of all believers. Christians united together and with the Father and Son demonstrate God's love to a dying world. Those in the world are drawn to the faith by this demonstration. Vs. 22 tells us this unity flows out of the glory of God that Jesus has passed on to the faithful--to us. This glory comes from the revelation of God to us and leads to glory to God from us. Finally, in vs. 23, it is God's indwelling that unites us and shows His love for us. This love seen by those in the world draws them to faith in the Savior.

Contemporary American culture is anything but unified, and race indeed is at the heart of our division. When Christians of different races and ethnicities can unite in Christ, our world will take notice and will be changed according to Christ Himself. Our nation, our communities need the faithful to reach across the racial divide and demonstrate God's unfailing love. Although unity between churches and institutions is admirable and desirable, this passage concerns individual believers reaching out to each other in love and in solidarity. How can you participate? What is one thing you can do? Across my street here is small town Virginia is an African American family. Over the last two years, we have become friends, and they are Christians. I'm going to ask the husband to join me in a bible study--that is one thing I can do.

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