Jesus Praying For Us (John 17:20–21) - Radical

Jesus Praying For Us (John 17:20–21)

“Jesus prayed, I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, father, are in me, and I in you. That they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
– John 17:20–21

Every verse in this chapter is worthy of meditation, prolonged meditation. As Jesus prays for his disciples through the first 19 or so verses. And then you get to John 17:20–21. And he starts praying not just for his disciples who were around him at that time, but for all who would believe in Jesus through their testimony. In other words, this is Jesus praying for us, right here for you and for me, for all who believe in Jesus today.

John 17:20–21 Reminds Us the Importance of Unity

Jesus prays for the unity of Christians. If we are not unified, we hinder the spread of the gospel.

Because we have heard the word of Jesus through the testimony of disciples, the testimony of followers of his who have gone before us. So Jesus is praying for us. So what does he pray for us? Verse 21, that they may all be one. He prays for our unity, for our community, together. Now, this is where it’s just baffling. “Just as you, father, are in me,” Jesus says. Think about unity, just as the father is in the son and I in you. Just, the son is in the father. Trinitarian unity. The Father, the Son, and the Holy spirit obviously are unified. There is perfect union, unity, in the Trinity. So that’s the level of unity that Jesus is praying for us here. “That they may all be one, just as you, father are in me, and I in you. That they also may be in us.”

John 17:20–21 Reminds Us We Can Be United with God

We have been invited in to unity with Jesus, the son, God the father, God the spirit, and one another. Our union in Christ, our union with one another, is grounded in our union in Christ, in Jesus, in God.

“That they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Wow. To think that the world realizing that Jesus has been sent by the father to be the savior of the world, that our unity as followers of Jesus has a direct effect on that realization being a reality in the world.

If we are not unified, we hinder testimony to Jesus. We hinder the spread of the gospel with a lack of unity. And let’s be clear, this is not some low-level, manufactured, manipulated, artificial, superficial unity. Like, let’s just all get along. Regardless of what we believe, let’s all be unified regardless of how we live.

That’s not the picture. This is a unity that is grounded in Jesus. This is a unity that is grounded in the truth of Jesus. The words of Jesus, the person of Jesus, the spirit of Jesus, the commands of Jesus. This is where our unity is grounded, and Jesus prays that we might experience it so that the world might know his love.

This Verse Leads Us to Pray for Unity

So we are compelled to pray then, aren’t we, for this unity? God, we pray amidst all our tendencies to divide, to drive rifts between one another, to separate into camps in this way or that way. To divide over preferences, opinions, not that which is your truth, your words that you’ve made clear. God, we pray today. We pray for unity in your church. We pray for this kind of unity in our local churches. God, I pray for this kind of unity in the church that I pastor. We pray for a unity around Jesus, around the gospel, around the Bible, around obedience to your commands, around love for one another.

God, please make us unified like that, so that the world around us in greater Washington DC would know that Jesus, you’ve been sent by God to be the savior of the world. And I pray not just for the local church I pastor, I pray for other local churches, those that are represented by those who are listening right now. God, I pray for unity. God, help. Help brothers and sisters to work together toward unity in Christ. In your church, around your word.

Please, oh God, Guard us from all the attempts of the adversary to steal the unity you’ve bought for us. Jesus, you went to the cross right after you prayed this to by unity for us. Our unity is not in our politics, it’s not in our ethnicity, it’s not in our preferences. It’s not in our socioeconomic status. You have made it possible for us to be unified in a way that transcends all of these things.

This Verse Leads Us to Pray for Love

So help us to live in it, we pray. Help us to guard it, help us to promote it. We pray for the unity of the spirit, and the bond of peace in our churches and then in a broader way in the church. And even when we disagree, in this fallen world where none of us has it all figured out, and we come down on different things here or there that are not central to who you are, and that are not clear in your word, or not central to the gospel. God, we pray to you to help us to love one another, even when we disagree. And to experience the unity that, Jesus, you have bought for us at the cross.

And so we pray that we would be one. Just as you, Jesus, are in the father, and the father is in you. That we may also be in you, so that the world may believe that you, oh father, have sent the son to save us from our sins. In Jesus’ name, we pray for this. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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