A prayer for all believers, part two
Background text: John 17:6-19
Devotional text: John 17:20-26
Today’s column is a continuation of last week’s from the gospel of John, when Jesus prayed for his disciples and all future believers just prior to his arrest. You see above that both background text and devotional text are the same as last week’s, as we look at the important words prayed for us by Jesus himself.
At the end of our last column, we learned the important words of Jesus as spoken to the Father God concerning the protection of all believers from the evil one (John 17:15).
As we begin to see from the gospel of John, we understand that Jesus and God are one. We understand that as the disciples came to understand the teachings of Jesus, they learned he truly was — and is — the Savior. Jesus taught them the power of his name and prayer, and he sent them into the world to teach salvation to all who would believe.
Beginning with John 17:20, we read. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message (verse 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.”
When Jesus ended his pray for the disciples, he said their mission was to be sent into the world to proclaim the good news of salvation. Think of it, friends! The good news of eternal life and salvation, along with God being with us always to help and protect and lead us in the right direction, has been passed down through the ages by the teachings of the disciples of Jesus.
The offer as a free gift to all who would believe has never changed. We find the lessons of Jesus in The New Testament of our Bibles. It is the same good news that holds true for us today. To believe in Jesus is to have unity with the Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As they are one, we, as believers, are one in unity with them.
Today, as we believe, it is our God stories, our reading of scripture, our daily prayers and our unending desire to speak the truth of God that helps the world to understand God’s glory and majesty.
As Christians, we become a unified community when we believe the tenents of our faith, belief that Jesus died for us (for our sins), that he resurrected on the third day and has saved us to eternal life. As we believe, we become members of that same community begun so long ago by the disciples of Jesus. In essence, we are Jesus’ newest disciples.
Let’s continue with Jesus’ prayer for us and all future believers in verse 22: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be as one as we are one — (verse 23) I in them and you in me — so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
We remember that wonderful scripture about God’s love for us as quoted from John 3:16-17: “For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
In conclusion to his prayer, Jesus said this in verses 25-26: “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 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.”
Throughout John, as well as many other New Testament scriptures, we begin to understand that Jesus sent to us The Holy Spirit to be with us forever. John 14:15-17 tells us that Jesus asks his followers to keep his commandments, and he will ask the Father to give to us an Advocate who will help us forever, known as the “Spirit of Truth” (The Holy Spirit). Furthermore, the Holy Spirit will live with us and be in us, as he certainly is today.
In John 16:13-14, Jesus tells us that “when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” The Holy Spirit is called our Counselor, Comforter and Teacher. He is the third person of our trinitarian God, and he also gives us gifts of wisdom, understanding, ability to stand firm in our belief in Jesus, as well as knowledge and holiness. He also helps us to pray when we are at a loss for words.
In addition, the Holy Spirit offers us fruit (Galatians 5:22-23): love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Basically, it is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives to help us keep right with Jesus and to show the love of the Father to others.
As we can see by the final prayer of Jesus, offered to the Father God, Jesus did not leave us empty-handed, to figure it all out. Even though he had taught his disciples, he also knew it was important for God to continue helping and protecting us. That is why he asked God to protect us from evil. That is why he asked for the Spirit of Truth to live within us forever, so we will always have ready access to our holy and glorious God.
How thankful we should be for this final prayer of Jesus for his disciples and all future believers. To understand that we, as followers, were included in that prayer, because Jesus loved us so much. He made a way for all believers to live good lives on earth and to know that we can always trust in God.