A MIDWEEK DEVOTIONAL: TIME IN THE WORD TOGETHER
Proverbs offers the wisdom of God on a variety of topics. But why were those particular topics chosen? It must be that these topics must speak to important aspects of the Christian life, contributing to our growth in Christlikeness. With that in mind, what does it say to you that God has chosen to write so extensively about friendship? I hope it tells you that friendship is important to God. We’ll go there this Sunday as we continue through Proverbs. Today, though, I’d like us to consider the connection between friendship and union. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit have lived in a blessed relationship for all eternity that is so close, is can only be described as a union. Another word for this union might be “oneness.” In John 17, Jesus actually prays for us, that we might not only know about this oneness, but that we might experience it…with one another, and with God. Let’s read this passage and explore it together.
Wednesday, September 11th
Larger Portion of Scripture - John 17
Focused Passage for Reflection - John 17:20-23
Reflecting on the Text:
Do you ever find yourself having to do a double take? Driving through the busy streets of Kampala, Uganda, I once passed by a motorcycle that was carrying a coffin. I had to do a double take. Did I really see what I thought I saw?!?
We do a double take when we have to check twice to make sure. Maybe it was a sight that just seemed too strange to be real. Maybe it was a statement that just seemed too good to be true. Did you find yourself needing to do a double take when you read John 17:20-23? If so, then that’s a good sign. It means you were paying attention to the words you read. And they do seem so astounding that we might wonder if they are too good to be true.
In these verses, Jesus is praying for a group of people. Those whom He is praying for are those who will come to believe in Him through the apostle’s teaching. That means “they” is we….or rather us. If you have come to believe in Jesus through the ministry of the Word of God, then you are among those whom Jesus is praying for in John 17. That by itself is worthy of a double take, but what is even more astounding is the content of His prayer.
In this “High Priestly Prayer,” Jesus celebrates the union/oneness He experiences with God the Father, and then in the first part of the prayer, He prays we would experience that same union/oneness. Now that’s a pretty lofty prayer request…that we would experience the same level of love and intimacy within the church that Jesus experiences with the Father. That by itself might seem like enough for one prayer. After all, we don’t want to get too greedy. But Jesus goes on.
In addition to His prayer for union/oneness within the church, Jesus goes on to pray that we would experience the blessing of union/oneness with God the Father and God the Son. (A union which vitally includes God the Spirit.) This is Jesus’ prayer! It is a prayer for us to experience the blessing of perfect love and intimate knowledge with one another, and with God.
Jesus is telling us through His prayer that our union/oneness will be a sign of the glory that Jesus has given us. It will also be a sign for the world to know that God sent Jesus…and that God loves us with the same love He has for His Son. DOUBLE TAKE! God loves us with the same love He has for His Son. I know…that sounds too good to be true! But Jesus prayed that we would know it. And He prayed that we would live it, through our union/oneness….with one another and with God.
Far too often we try to condense relationship advice down to a series of helpful how to’s. While wise counsel is important (and we will find it in Proverbs), we need something more foundational. We must know that we are created in the image of God and therefore are hard wired for relationship. Jesus has come, first and foremost to reconcile us back into right relationship with God the Father. But an important impact of that primary work of reconciliation is that we are reconciled to one another. This is Jesus’ work, and this is Jesus’ prayer…union/oneness. Maybe we’re past the double takes, but that truth, and this prayer, is one worthy of our heart’s mediation.
Questions for personal reflection:
As you mediate on Jesus’ prayer request that we would know we are loved by the Father with the same love He has for the Son, how does your heart respond? Can you accept that God loves you that much? If not, why not? Find a trusted friend and counselor to process this truth with you.
What holds you back from experiencing perfect love and intimate knowledge within the body of Christ? Again, find a trusted friend and counselor to process this question with you.