Preparation of the Church: The Intercession & Prayer of Jesus

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses twelve through twenty-six of the seventeenth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the conclusion of the great high priestly prayer which Jesus prayed just prior to entering into the garden with the remaining eleven disciples. I have to admit that the more I consider the events which took place on the night in which Jesus was betrayed the more I can’t help but come face to face with the tremendous amount of time, effort and energy Jesus out into preparing and making ready the disciples for His departure. In all reality, the entire foundation of the actions which took place on this night, the words which were spoken unto the disciples, and even the words which were spoken unto the Father was the reality that the hour had come for Jesus to depart from the earth and for His return unto the Father. If you wish to truly understand the words which are found within this passage of scripture and these subsequent chapters you must carefully consider the words which form the opening of the thirteenth chapter. If you turn and direct your attention back to the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter you will quickly come face to face with the incredible reality that Jesus knew that the hour had come for His departure unto the right hand of the Father, and He knew the Father had given all things into His hands. What’s more, is the apostle John writes how Satan’s has by this time out it into the hearts of Judas to betray Jesus, and how in direct contrast to that reality Jesus loves His own and loved them unto the end. Furthermore, the apostle John goes on to write that in this hour Jesus continues to be well aware of the reality and knew that He had come from the Father and that He was returning unto the Father. The apostle John makes it perfectly and abundantly clear in the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter that Jesus knew that His hour had come and that He would return unto the right hand of the Father. Absolutely everything that takes place on this night, and absolutely everything that was spoke—both that which was spoken unto the disciples, as well as that which was spoken unto the Father—hinged on the reality that Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to depart from this earth and to return unto His Father. It was this knowledge that stood as the basis and foundation for everything that took place on this night in terms of words spoken unto the disciples, in terms of words spoken unto the Father, and in terms of Jesus laying aside His garments in order that He might take up the towel that He might wash the feet of the disciples. It would be in the context of fellowship and friendship Jesus would wash the feet of the disciples at the very outset of the events following the conclusion of supper, for Jesus sought to leave them with an example of how they themselves should live in this life in His absence.

What absolutely amazes me about the events of this night is that before Jesus would even begin speaking unto the disciples concerning His departure and the promise of the arrival of the Holy Spirit He laid aside His garments in order that He might take up the towel and wash their feet. BEFORE SPEAKING…SERVING! AFTER SPEAKING…PRAYING! It’s quite astonishing and remarkable to read the words which the apostle John wrote and penned within this passage of scripture, for the apostle John wrote how before Jesus even began speaking unto the disciples concerning His departure, concerning the mystery of His return concealed in His departure, and even concerning the arrival and appearance of the Holy Spirit, He desired that He might provide and show unto them a wonderful example of serving others and serving those before and around them. Jesus was indeed their Lord and their Master, and yet He was willing to lay aside His garments that He might take up the towel and wash the feet of the disciples. I have to admit that I absolutely love what I read here in these chapters for before speaking there was the act of serving as Jesus not only sought to minister unto the disciples, but He also sought to provide unto them an example of how they should act and what they should do in His absence. Jesus knee and understood that the disciples would need to know and understand how to conduct themselves in His absence, and so even before the Holy Spirit would arrive upon and within the earth, Jesus would provide them with unique instruction as to how they were to conduct themselves. As you read the words which are found in this passage of scripture you will find that Jesus didn’t simply stop with serving others through washing their feet—although this was the primary example Jesus provided unto them for serving those they would be sent to. Washing the feet of others would be the foundation and context upon which Jesus would begin providing them with very specific instruction as to how they were to live in the world which He was departing from. Jesus would speak unto the disciples on this night concerning abiding in Him, and how in that abiding in Him they were to bear much fruit. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to further instruct the disciples to love one another and to keep His commandments. What’s more, is that Jesus would actually take it a step further and declare that it would be by keeping His commandments the disciples would demonstrate their love for the Father and the Son. It would be through their bearing fruit and loving others men would know they were His disciples, and it would be through their keeping His commandments they would demonstrate and prove their love for both the Father and the Son.

That which we find written and contained within these chapters found within the gospel of John are actually quite astonishing and captivating, for Jesus—knowing that He would depart from this earth and leave the disciples behind in the world—sought to not only prepare them, but also to pray for them. What would begin with an act of humility and service would continue with Jesus preparing the disciples for His departure by speaking unto them concerning the Holy Spirit who would come after He departed the earth. What’s more, is that it would be in the context of serving and loving others that Jesus would prepare the disciples—not to be loved, not to be recurved, and not to be appreciated, but to be hated and persecuted. It’s interesting and worth noting that Jesus did not prepare His disciples to remain and abide in this world and in this life and be received and loved by the world. Nowhere in the four gospels will you find Jesus at any time speaking unto and declaring to the disciples that they would be loved and received by the world. In fact, the exact opposite is true, for Jesus spent time speaking unto the disciples preparing them to remain and abide in the world, and in the midst of the world to be hated and even persecuted by those in the world. Taking this a step further, Jesus would declare unto the disciples that if the world hated Him the world would also hate them, for although the world loves their own they hate and despise those who are not of and among them. Jesus would declare unto the disciples that if the world persecuted Him the world would also persecute them. If you read the New Testament book of Acts you will find that these words which were spoken by Jesus would in fact come to pass, as the disciples would be hated and persecuted—first within Jerusalem and Judaea, and eventually in the known world at that time. In fact, it would be the great persecution which broke out in the city of Jerusalem during the days of Saul of Tarsus that the early church would be scattered and driven to the ends of the earth. How absolutely captivating it is to think about and consider the fact that when Jesus prepares the disciples to remain in the world in His absence, He didn’t prepare them to be loved, welcomed, received, and even appreciated, but He prepared them to be hated. Nowhere in the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples will you find Him declaring unto them that they would be loved and received by others, and it is this reality which I am convinced actually sets the disciples free in terms of the realm of love and loving others. If you know that even though you will love others you will be hated and even mistreated and persecuted it sets you free from having any conditions or expectations concerning and regarding love. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find and read within these chapters and verses is a truly unique and powerful picture of the disciples being prepared to be hated, mistreated and persecuted by the world for the world would and could not receive them. Just as the works hated and did not receive Jesus the Christ, so also the world would hate and would not receive the disciples.

What is so absolutely and incredibly unique about the words we find within these chapters is that just before Jesus began speaking directly unto the Father, His final words which were spoken unto the disciples was an emphatic and bold declaration that in this works they would have many troubles and many trials. Just before Jesus lifted His eyes toward heaven and began speaking unto the Father, He left the disciples with the reality that they would have in this works many trials and tribulations. It’s quite interesting and unique to think about and consider the fact that when you find Jesus making ready and preparing His disciples for life in the world without His person and presence, He didn’t merely prepare them to love one another, He didn’t just prepare them to wash one another’s feet, nor did He even prepare them to bear and bring forth fruit, and even to keep His commandments. If and as you read the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto the disciples on the night in which He was betrayed—the night in which He was betrayed while He was still in the world—Jesus made ready and prepared the disciples for the fact that in spite of the fact that they would love one another, and in spite of the fact they would wash one another’s feet, they would be hated and even persecuted in the midst of the world in which He was leaving them. If you begin reading with and from the fifteenth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John you will come face to face with the beginning of Jesus’ preparation of the disciples for His departure by declaring unto them that even though they would love one another, they would be hated by the world and hated by those of whom they are not. LOVING ONE ANOTHER, HATED BY OTHERS! How absolutely and incredibly unique it is to actually think about and consider the fact that when Jesus left His disciples in the world, He didn’t leave them in the world with the expectation that they would be loved and received, but rather that they would be hated and persecuted. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss out on that which Jesus the Christ truly sought to speak unto the disciples on this particular night. The more you read the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples on this particular night, you will find that the context of their loving one another and the context of their washing the feet of one another would be that of the world hating and the world persecuting them. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that the instruction and command to love one another, and the instruction to wash one another’s feet would be in direct relation with their being hated of and hated by the world, and their being persecuted by the world. In fact, I would seek to draw your attention to the words which are found in the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters beginning with the eighteenth verse of the fifteenth chapter:

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19).

“Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20).

“He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause” (John 15:23-25).

“These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have known the Father nor me” (John 16:1-3).

I have to admit that it is absolutely no surprise to find Jesus lifting His eyes unto His Father in heaven, for although He would not leave the disciples and church orphanless but would send the Comforter and Counseller who was indeed the Holy Spirit sent from the Father, He would leave them in the world where they would not only be hated and persecuted, but also in a world where they would face and experience many trials and troubles. If you turn and direct your attention to the final verse of the sixteenth chapter you will quickly notice that Jesus’ final words spoken unto the disciples before He lifted His eyes toward heaven to begin speaking with His Father were that in this world they would have tribulation. It is quite necessary that we take a moment to think about this particular reality, for not only was Jesus preparing the disciples to remain in a world absent and apart from Him, but He was also leaving them in a world where they would be hated and persecuted. It would be in this world which Jesus was leaving the disciples that they would not only be hated and persecuted, but they would also face many tribulations. I feel absolutely compelled to take a moment and pause right here, for we have been taught and even conditioned to think and believe that a life spent walking with and following Jesus is going to be a life of comfort and ease, and that anything and everything will be quiet, calm and peaceful. We tend to think and believe that when we make the decision to walk with, follow after and serve Jesus the Christ, that we will experience tremendous comfort and ease in this life, and that there will be no conflict, there will be no trials, there will be no tribulations, there will be no troubles, and their will be no suffering or affliction. There have been countless men and women who have come to the cross and who have come to Jesus the Christ thinking and believing that by making the decision to walk with and follow Jesus the Christ, they will find and experience a life of absolute comfort and ease. It’s worth noting that when you read the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples there was not a single time when Jesus promised them they would be loved and received by the world, and there was not a single time when Jesus promised them a life absent of tribulation and troubles. TEMPERED EXPECTATIONS! FALSE EXPECTATIONS DELIVERED WITHIN A FALSE GOSPEL! I would dare say and declare unto you that any gospel which attempts to paint you a picture of a life of absolute ease and comfort absent any form and type of trouble is a gospel that is false and has the danger of misleading and deceiving you, thus bringing you down a dark and dangerous path—not only of deception itself, but also of bitterness, and even offense in Jesus Christ and with the Father in heaven.

I cannot seem to shake the fact that when you read these five chapters found within the New Testament gospel of John you do not find Jesus preparing the disciples to be loved and received by the world, but rather to be hated and persecuted by the world. What’s more—as if being hated and persecuted by the world wasn’t enough—is that Jesus would also prepare the disciples for the incredible and tremendous reality that they would face and experience many tribulations in this life and in the world in which He was leaving them. The final words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples was in fact two-fold, for on the one hand He emphatically declared unto them that in this world they would face many tribulation, but on the other hand He instructed them to be of good cheer, for He had overcome the world. What’s truly astonishing and unique is that even though Jesus had overcome the world, and even though Jesus instructed them to be of good cheer, that didn’t mean that they would be permitted and able to live in this world absent trouble and tribulation. It is true that Jesus did in fact overcome the world, and that the world has nothing in Him, however, that doesn’t mean that those whom He left behind within the world will live lives absent trial, trouble and tribulation. It is worth noting that Jesus did in fact overcome the world, and that instructed us to be of good cheer, however, Jesus emphatically declared unto us and prepared us for the reality that in this world we would have tribulation. Notice that Jesus absolutely never and nowhere promised us a life absent conflict and a life absent struggle. We would like to think that by making the decision to walk with and follow Jesus we are granted and permitted a life of ease and comfort, and a life absent conflict and struggle, however, this reality is the furthest thing from the truth. If you read the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples on this particular night you will find that Jesus was sure to set the proper expectation for the disciples that upon His departure from this earth they would be hated of the world, and they would even be persecuted in and by the world. What’s more—as if that wasn’t enough in and of itself—Jesus would also go on to declare unto the disciples that in this world they would have tribulation. Even though Jesus had overcome the world, and even though the disciples would have the Counselor and the Comforter, they would still find themselves facing and experiencing tribulation within the world. Such a reality was adamantly expressed in the writings of the apostle Paul when he wrote of his own struggles, trials, tribulations, and troubles in the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints and congregation. What’s more, is that even before Saul’s name would ever be changed to Paul, and even before he would ever pen and write the words unto the churches, Jesus the Christ spoke unto and revealed to Ananias how that in this life the apostle Paul would suffer many things for the sake of the name of Jesus the Christ. Consider if you will—first the words which are found in the. New Testament book of Acts, as well as the words which are found in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the second New Testament epistle written unto the Corinthian saints:

“And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for his a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received his sight forthwith, and arise, and was baptized” (Acts 9:10-18).

“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will gory of the things which concern mine infirmities” (2 Corinthians 11:23-30).

“And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

It is quite obvious when reading the words which are found within these passages—particularly the words which the Lord spoke unto Ananias—that the Lord was going to show unto this Saul of Tarsus what great things he must suffer for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this incredible reality, for when the Lord was preparing Saul for the ministry unto which he had been called, the Lord showed unto him what great things he must suffer for His name’s sake. In all reality, there was this underlying expectation when Saul made the decision to walk with and follow Jesus the Christ he would suffer many things and face many trials and troubles in this life. The words which he wrote and penned in the second epistle written unto the Corinthians saints are living proof and testament to this reality, as the apostle Paul would write concerning the tremendous and great struggles he faced within this life for the sake of the name of Christ. When writing a second letter unto the Corinthian saints we find the apostle Paul writing words which confirmed that which the Lord would speak unto Ananias many years earlier when He declared unto him that Saul would suffer many things for the sake of the name of Christ. It is this reality of the expectation being set early on in the life of Saul that he would suffer many things for the sake of the name of Christ. This reality is actually worth making note of, for when Jesus prepared the disciples for His departure, He prepared them to face many tribulations in the world, and died not prepare them for a life of ease and comfort, but prepared them for a life of much suffering, much tribulation, much trials, and much trouble. What’s more, is the Lord also would prepare them for the fact that in this world they would not only be hated, but they would also be persecuted by the world, and would be rejected and even despised of men for the sake of the name of Christ. Oh we must recognize and understand the expectation that was set by Jesus the Christ on the night in which He was betrayed, for on this particular night He did not prepare the disciples to be loved and received by the world, but instead He prepared them to be hated and persecuted by the world. What’s more, is that Jesus would declare unto that if and since they hated and persecuted Him, so also they would hate and persecute them because they are not of the world, but were called and chosen out of the world. When preparing the disciples to remain in the world which He Himself was departing out, Jesus set the expectation and prepared them to be hated and persecuted, and not simply hated, but hated of all nations for the sake of His name. HATED AND PERSECUTED! TRIED AND TESTED! HATED AND TRIED! Oh it is absolutely necessary that we must recognize and understand that when Jesus knew that He was departing from this world, and when Jesus was departing from this life, He sought to prepare the disciples for the reality that in this life they would have many troubles and in this life they would have many tribulations—this on top of the fact that they would also be hated and persecuted by and within the world because they were not of the world and were indeed Christ’s disciples and followers.

Directly upon the heels of Jesus emphatically declaring unto the disciples that in this world they would have many tribulations, Jesus would then lift His eyes toward heaven, and would speak directly unto the Father in the hearing of the disciples, and in their company and presence. Immediately following Jesus’ declaration that they would in this world face many tribulation, He would lift up His eyes toward heaven and would begin speaking directly unto the Father. After speaking solely unto the disciples in the context of His departure, Jesus would now shift His graze and would shift His focus from speaking unto the disciples to speaking directly unto the Father who was in heaven. When speaking unto the Father He declared unto Him that the hour had come, and in light of the reality that the hour had come, Jesus asked the Father to glorify the Son that the Son might also glorify Him. What’s more, is that Jesus would declare unto the Father that He had given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as he had given Him. Jesus would go on to speak unto the Father and declare that life eternal was that men and women might know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He had sent into the earth. In all reality, I have to say that the prayer which Jesus prayed in the company and presence of the disciples, and the words which He spoke unto the Father on this particular night are absolutely and incredibly powerful, for there were so many different facets that are found within the prayer which was prayed unto and spoken in the sight and hearing of the Father. As you read the words found within this passage of Scripture you will find that within the prayer which Jesus prayed He spoke unto the Father concerning the work which He had been sent to do, and the work which He had finished and completed upon the earth. This reality is evidenced and manifested beginning with the fourth verse where Jesus emphatically declares unto the Father that he had glorified Him on the earth, and that He had finished the work which He had given Him to do. If you continue reading the words which the apostle John wrote and recorded within this gospel you will find specific statements spoken by Jesus unto the Father concerning that which He had accomplished while on the earth among the disciples and among those to whom He had been sent. In the fourth verse of the chapter Jesus emphatically declared that He had glorified the Father on the earth, and that He had finished the work which the Father had given Him to do. In the sixth verse you will find Jesus declaring unto the Father that He had manifested His name unto the men which He had given unto Him, and in the eighth verse you will find Jesus declaring that He had given unto them [those whom the Father had given unto Him] the words which He had given Him. Furthermore, in the twelfth verse of this chapter you will find Jesus declaring that while He was with the disciples in the world, He kept them in the name of the Father, and those which the Father gave Him He had kept, and none of them were lost, save the son of perdition, and this only that the Scripture might be fulfilled. One of the first realities we encounter and notice within this prayer which Jesus prayed unto the Father was the work which He had accomplished and the work which He had completed on the earth while He was among the disciples in the world.

If you continue reading the words which were prayed by Jesus the Christ you will quickly notice that in addition to the work which Jesus Himself accomplished while on the earth, there was a certain and specific response which was displayed by the disciples. As you read the words found within this prayer your ill notice that Jesus made some very specific statements concerning the disciples, and how they responded to the work which He had been sent to do, and even the words which He had spoken and delivered unto them. Upon reading that which is found in this passage of Scripture you will notice how Jesus declared unto the Father that the disciples had not only kept the word of the Father, but they had also known that all things that were given unto the Son are of the Father. What’s more, is that Jesus would go on to declare unto the Father that the disciples had received the words which He had spoken unto them, and had known that He had come out from the Father and that He was indeed sent by the Father. Perhaps the single greatest response the disciples had to the words and work for which Jesus was sent was that they realized and recognized that Jesus was indeed sent from God, and that Jesus did in fact come and proceed forth from the living God and Father who inhabits eternity. Jesus made it very clear in this prayer prayed unto the Father that the disciples had not only received the word which He had spoken unto them, but they in fact knew that Jesus was sent by God, and that Jesus came from God. This reality lines up with the words which the apostle John wrote at the very outset of the gospel when He declared that the Word was in the beginning, that the Word was with God, that the Word was God, and that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. I previously wrote how the words which we find in the opening portion of this gospel set the tone and stage for the entire gospel, for the entire gospel centers around the Word becoming and taking on flesh, and the Word dwelling among us and coming unto His own. When Jesus spoke unto the Father who was in heaven, He emphatically declared unto the Father that the disciples and men whom the Father had given Him knew that He had come from God, and that He had indeed been sent from God, and that now He was returning unto the One who had sent Him into the earth. Oh there is a tremendous amount of language found within this prayer in which Jesus emphatically declares unto the Father the response of the disciples, and how the disciples not only received the word which Jesus had spoken and delivered unto them, but also how the disciples had received Him whom the Father had sent, and in receiving the One whom the Father had sent, they received the Father who had sent the Son. Oh there is a great amount of language that is found and contained within this prayer concerning the disciples recognizing and realizing that the Father had sent the Son, and that the disciples not only received Jesus the Christ, but by receiving Jesus, they also received the Father.

As you continue and progress within this passage and prayer you will notice very specific requests and petitions Jesus made one half of the disciples—on behalf of those whom He would leave behind in this world and in this life in His absence. Reading the words found within this passage of Scripture you will quickly notice that there were certain things Jesus sought to pray on behalf of the disciples, for He knew and understood the world in which He was leaving them in, and the world He was calling them to live in, and the world in which He was sending them. Upon reading the words which are found within this prayer you will quickly notice that Jesus was very much concerned with one very specific reality concerning the disciples—namely, that they would be one even as He and the Father were one. There is perhaps no greater reality demonstrated and manifested within this prayer than that of Jesus being concerned for the unity of the disciples, and the unity of the early church which would be birthed on the day of Pentecost. We must recognize and understand that Jesus didn’t merely pray for the disciples whom He would leave behind, but Jesus would also pray for the church which would be formed and created on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit would be released within and upon the earth. In the eleventh verse of this chapter you will find the following words which were spoken and prayed by Jesus the Christ in the sight and presence of the Father: “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are” (John 15:11). If you move down a little further in this prayer you will encounter additional words which Jesus spoke—not only concerning the unity and oneness of the disciples, but also the unity and oneness of the church as a whole, which would be present in the world in the absence of the Son, yet in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Beginning with the twentieth verse of this seventeenth chapter you will come to the following words which were spoken by Jesus in the hearing and presence of the Father concerning the unity of the disciples, as well as the unity of the early church which would be present and remain in the earth. I leave you with these final words which were spoken by Jesus the Christ unto the Father, for these words help further demonstrate the tremendous reality that Jesus was concerned for the unity of the body, and the unity of the church in His absence, and sought to intercede on behalf of divisions and schisms which would endanger the church in His absence. Consider if you will the words which were spoken by Jesus the Christ unto the Father concerning the unity of the disciples and the unity of the church in the absence of the Son and in the presence of the Holy Spirit:

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:20-23).

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