In the Fellowship of Many—The Answer to Jesus’ Intercssion & the Manifestation of the Spirit

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first eighteen verses of the eighteenth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the discourse which took place in the upper room having drawn to a close. Having spoken directly unto His disciples in preparation and investment on the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus now leads His disciples into a place that was altogether familiar unto them. As you approach the eighteenth chapter of the gospel of John you will find the words which Jesus first spoke unto His disciples drawing to a close, as well as the words which He spoke unto the Father drawing to a close. Having prepared the disciples through an act of humility and service; through the words which He spoke unto them, as well as through the prayer which He prayed unto the Father on their behalf, as well as all those who would come after them and all those who would believe on the word(s) they would speak in ahis absence. It’s actually quite unique and powerful to think about and consider the fact that when Jesus knew that His hour had come for Him to depart from this earth and return unto the Father, He also knew everything that would befall and come upon Him. It’s absolutely necessary and imperative to think about and consider the fact that while Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to depart from the earth, He also knew everything that would befall and come upon Him on this earth. While it was true that Jesus knew that He was departing this earth and returning unto the Father, He also knew the way unto the Father was through suffering, through affliction, through trouble, through trial, through persecution, and ultimately through death itself. Upon reading the words the apostle John wrote in this particular gospel you will quickly discover and come face to face with the tremendous reality that on the same night in which Jesus would be betrayed by one of His own, on the same night He would be denied by one, and on the same nigh He would be abandoned and forsaken by all, He would do more than simply prepare the disciples for His departure out of this world and unto the Father who was in heaven. While it is true that Jesus prepared His disciples to love one another, while it is true that Jesus prepares His disciples to wash one another’s feet, and while it was true that Jesus prepared the disciples to bear much fruit and to keep His commandments, it is also true that Jesus prepared them for something much different than what they were expecting. Reading the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples on this night you will find that as He spoke unto them, He prepared them to be hated—and not just hated, but also persecuted in this life. In other words, not only would Jesus leave and depart from this life and return unto the Father and leave the disciples behind in this world, He would leave them behind to be hated and persecuted by those in the world.

I have to admit that I absolutely love the course of events which took place on this particular night, for what began with a powerful example of humility and service as Jesus laid aside His garments and washed the feet of the disciples would ultimately culminate in Jesus speaking directly unto the Father in prayer and intercession on behalf of those whom He would leave behind in this world. It is and it was true that Jesus knew that the disciples would remain behind in the world and where He went they could not yet go, and with and based on that knowledge He sought to speak directly unto the Father in their behalf as He interceded for them. How absolutely wonderful and remarkable it is to think about and consider the fact that not only did Jesus lay aside His garments and wash their feet as an example of how they should live and what they should do in His absence, but He also sought to speak directly unto the Father on their behalf through intercession. With the knowledge that the disciples would remain behind in this world and in this life Jesus sought to speak directly unto the Father through prayer and intercession on their behalf. It’s so incredibly wonderful that while Jesus knew that He would be leaving the disciples behind in this world, He wasn’t willing to leave them behind absent praying for an interceding for them and on their behalf. Much like when satan desired to have peter that he might sift him like wheat but Jesus prayed for him that his faith would fail not, so also would Jesus pray for the disciples in His absence. It’s worth noting that when Jesus prayed for the disciples, He prayed one very specific prayer for them in this life—namely, that they would be one even as He and the Father were one. With the knowledge that He would depart from this life and return unto the Father, Jesus knew and recognized that one of the greatest needs the disciples would have was to be one with one another even as He and the Father were one with each other. In His absence Jesus knew and understood that there would be a great and tremendous need for unity to be present within and present among the disciples, and even within and among the church that would be formed, birthed and created through the person of the Holy Spirit. In His absence Jesus sought for a specific unity to be found present within and among the disciples, for He knew and understood how absolutely vital and critical that unity would be in His absence. It’s almost as if Jesus knew and understood that in His absence they would not be able to be sustained individually, but would actually need one another. Oh please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this absolutely incredible reality, for Jesus recognized and understood that in His absence the disciples, and even the church itself would and could not sustain itself on an individual level, but would need one another. What’s more than that, is that as you read the words which are found in the previous chapters you will find mention of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit, thus indicating that the disciples could not sustain themselves absent and apart from the person and presence of the Holy Spirit.

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be absolutely and wonderfully gripped and captivated with and by the fact that when speaking unto the disciples about His departure and His absence from the earth and from their lives, He knew and understood two very important realities which He would not only speak unto them, but would also speak unto the Father in heaven on their behalf. Upon reading the words found within this passage you will quickly encounter the reality and fact that the disciples would remain within this world and within this life, however, not only could they not sustain themselves individually without and apart from each other, but they would also be unable to sustain themselves absent the person and power of the Holy Spirit. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the tremendous reality that when Jesus knew that He would depart from this earth and would no more be with the disciples, He sought to teach them the absolute and incredible importance of one another and unity with each other. If we are being honest with each other, if we are being honest with ourselves, and if we are being honest with the Father we must admit that despite and regardless how hard we might try—we cannot sustain ourselves absent fellowship and unity with each other. We may seek to try and live our lives independently from others and live our lives with just us ourselves, however, that was not the reality which Jesus prayed unto the Father in the hearing of the disciples. Jesus—when speaking unto the Father—knew and understood they THR disciples would not be able to remain and abide in this world the way He intended them to independent and apart from each other. Jesus—when praying unto the Father who was in heaven—prayed that the disciples would be one even as He and the Father were one, thus indicating the tremendous need they had to be one with one another. The more I think about and the more I consider the words which are found within this passage of scripture the more I can’t help but come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that when Jesus knew that He was going to depart from this world and return unto the Father, He spoke unto them concerning the person and presence of the Holy Spirit, yet when it came to being one even as He and the Father were one, and when it came to unity of the disciples and unity of the church, Jesus did not speak this unto the disciples directly, but rather He spoke it unto the Father and prayed it on their behalf. How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that when Jesus prayed for the disciples prior to departing from this earth, He prayed that they would be one with each other even as He and the Father were one. Notice Jesus didn’t pray that they would do great miracles in His name, nor did He pray that they would cast our demons and unclean spirits in His name. When Jesus prayed for the disciples He did not pray that they would preach great sermons in His name, but that they would be one even as He and the Father were one.

I have to admit that I find this reality of the words which Jesus prayed unto the Father being absolutely incredible and amazing, for when you think about the many things Jesus could have prayed for the disciples, you will find it known and written that Jesus didn’t pray those prayers we would think He would or even should pray. It’s interesting and worth noting and considering that while it is true that Jesus declared that greater works than those which even He did while on the earth would the disciples and the church do because He goes unto the Father, He didn’t pray for such things when He spoke unto the Father in their hearing and in their company. Jesus could have prayed for absolutely anything when speaking unto the Father this night, and He could have very easily prayed for the disciples that they would do great and wonderful miracles and mighty works in His name, and yet if you read the words which He prayed and spoke unto the Father, you will find that not once did He pray that the disciples would do great miracles, or that they would perform great feats and great exploits on His behalf and in His name. We would like to think that when speaking unto the Father Jesus would have prayed that they would do great and mighty works, signs and wonders in the earth, however, nowhere in the entire seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John will you find Him even mentioning and/or speaking about miracles, signs and wonders. With that being said, we must remember the words which Jesus spoke when delivering the Sermon on the Mount, for when He spoke during the Sermon on the Mount, He declared that many would come unto Him during that day and would say Lord, Lord, and would begin speaking of casting out demons in His name, of prophesying great things in His name, and even doing many great wonders and works in His name, and yet He would declare unto them that He never knew them. With these words Jesus made it very clear and abundantly plain that it is possible to prophesy in His name, it is possible to cast out demons in His name, and it is possible to do great works and wonders in His name, and yet still appear before Him and hear that He never knew you for you were a worker of iniquity. We must recognize and understand this reality, for when you think about and consider the words which Jesus prayed unto the Father in the hearing and company of the disciples, He didn’t mention a single time works, signs and even wonders. When speaking unto the Father, Jesus never even thought to pray for the disciples that they would do great works in His name and in His absence, but rather that they would be one with each other even as He and the Father were one. It is absolutely necessary that we think about and consider this reality and truth, for to miss this truth would be to miss the absolute importance of the words which Jesus prayed for the disciples knowing that He would depart from this earth, would return unto His Father, and would leave them behind in this world and in this life.

I am sitting here this morning and I can’t help but think about the absolute and incredible reality that when Jesus spoke unto the Father, and when Jesus prayed for and on behalf of the disciples, He never prayed for them that they would do great signs, great wonders, and great miracles in His name. What’s more, is that you will not find Jesus praying that the disciples would preach great sermons and would preach to great crowds and multitudes as He Himself did while on the earth. Jesus never prayed for the disciples that they would have a ministry that was modeled and fashioned after that one which the Father had entrusted into His hands and care while He dwelt among men upon the earth. Jesus never once prayed for the disciples, nor did He once pray for the disciples that they would see great numbers of men and women healed, and even great numbers of men and women coming into the kingdom because of their preaching and the words which they would speak unto those whom they would encounter. Not once would Jesus ever pray unto the Father that the disciples would remain within and upon the earth and would see thousands, if not millions make the decision to walk with and follow Him in this life. We would like to think that when Jesus prayed and spoke unto the Father who was in heaven that these realities would be of utmost and incredible importance to Him, however, the truth of the matter is that these realities weren’t even of any significance or importance. In that moment and in that hour when He was speaking directly unto the Father who was in heaven, Jesus wasn’t thinking about signs, He wasn’t thinking about miracles, He wasn’t thinking about wonders, nor was He thinking about great works and great exploits in His name in this life in His absence after returning unto the Father. What we find in the great high priestly prayer which Jesus prayed unto the Father was that He prayed for the disciples that they would be one even as He and the Father were one. Oh dear reader, please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this tremendous reality, for if you do so you will miss the absolute and incredible importance of the words which Jesus prayed unto the Father when He knew that He would depart from this life and would depart from this world and would return unto His Father who was in heaven. When Jesus knew that His hour had come, and when Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to depart from this world and return unto the Father, He desired one thing above all other things for and on behalf of the disciples, and even for the early church—namely, that they would all be one even as He and the Father were one with each other. Jesus was desirous of one thing above all other things when He spoke unto the Father on the night in which He was betrayed, and that was simply that the disciples would be one with each other, and that the church which He knew would be birthed just fifty days from then would be one. It’s almost as if Jesus wasn’t as much concerned with the works the disciples and church would do as much as He was concerned with whether or not the disciples would and could be one with each other even as He and the Father were one with each other. Think about the fact that Jesus could have prayed absolutely anything on the night in which He was betrayed, and yet instead of praying for works, instead of praying for wonders, instead of praying for great ministries, instead of praying for great callings, Jesus simply and utterly prayed for unity.

UNITY ABOVE ALL ELSE! I am sitting here this morning and I am finding myself being absolutely and incredible gripped and captivated with and by the words which Jesus the Christ spoke and prayed unto the Father on the night in which He was betrayed, for we know and understand that Jesus could have prayed absolutely anything in the hearing of the Father, and yet that which He chose to pray above all else and before anything else was simply that the disciples would be one with each other—and not only the disciples, but also those who would believe in the name of Jesus Christ because of their words. Jesus knew how absolutely necessary, how absolutely critical, and how absolutely important unity in the church and unity among the body was in His absence and in the age of the Spirit, and when He spoke unto the Father, and when He prayed unto the Father concerning the disciples, He prayed that they would be one with each other even as He and the Father were one. Jesus knew and understood that the disciples—and even the church itself—could not function independent and separate from each other, and that the church would need each other. Jesus knew and understood that the church and His body which would remain in this earth would and could not function separate from each other, and that they would without a doubt need one another in order to truly function in the capacity which He desired and intended in this life. Jesus knew and understood that in His absence and in the age of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit, the disciples and the church would need to be one with each other even as He and the Father were one. There was absolutely no room for the disciples to be independent, to be self-sourcing, and even self-sufficient, for they would without a doubt need one another. What’s more, is that I would dare say that the great works which they did would be in direct relation and proportion to their being one with each other, and being united in the Spirit in the name of Jesus the Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that the works which the disciples did in this life and among men within the earth were in direct relationship to the awesome and incredible fact that they were united together as one in the name of Jesus the Christ. There was absolutely no room for indeed ent callings, and there was absolutely no room for separate realities among each other, for the disciples and the church would without a doubt need each other in order that they might function together as the corporate body the Father intended in the earth. Have you ever wondered why the Holy Spirit didn’t fall upon men and women individually while they were in their own homes, or even in their own prayer closets? Have you ever thought about the fact that the Holy Spirit didn’t come on the Day of Pentecost while Simon Peter was in his own house—perhaps with his brother Andrew, his wife and his mother-in-law? Have you ever through about the fact that the Holy Spirit didn’t come on the Day of Pentecost while James and John the sons of Zebedee were together with their father—perhaps in their home, or even out upon the open sea as they sought to haul in a great catch? Have you ever thought about the fact that the Holy Spirit did not and would not fall upon the disciples as they were each going about their own daily lives, nor even the other one-hundred and nine individuals who would be mentioned in connection with the Day of Pentecost?

WE NEED EACH OTHER FOR OUTPOURING! WE NEED EACH OTHER FOR INDWELLING! WE NEED EACH OTHER FOR ENCOUNTER! As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think about the absolutely incredible reality that when the Holy Spirit was poured out and released on the Day of Pentecost, He wasn’t released, and He didn’t come upon men and women in an individual setting and context, but rather in a corporate context as the one hundred and twenty were together in one accord in the upper room. When the Holy Spirit was released on the day of Pentecost, He wasn’t released in an individual setting and in an individual context, but was released in a corporate setting and within a corporate context, thus indicating the absolute and tremendous need for unity within and upon the body. There is not a doubt in my mind that the Day of Pentecost would and could have taken place in any type of context other than in a corporate context, and despite the fact that we would like to think that it would and perhaps even could have taken place in an individual setting, the truth of the matter is that it must needs take place in the context of unity, in the context of fellowship, and in the context of community. IN THE CONTEXT OF UNITY…OUTPOURING! IN THE CONTEXT OF FELLOWSHIP…OUTPOURING! IN THE CONTEXT OF COMMUNITY…OUTPOURING! There is not a doubt in my mind that what happened and what took place not he Day of Pentecost would and could not have happened and taken place absent and independent the unity which was manifested within and among those one hundred and twenty men and women who were present on that particular day. What’s more, is that the events which took place on the Day of Pentecost took place in the context of community and fellowship, but it also took place in the context of prayer, as all those who were present in the upper room were together in one mind continuing in prayer with each other. We don’t know and we have absolutely no idea what that prayer sounded like, or what they were praying about, however, one thing we do know for certain was that the one-hundred and twenty who were present together in the upper room were not only together in unity, but they were also together in unity in prayer. It would be in the context of prayer and unity the Holy Spirit would be released upon the one hundred and twenty in the upper room, and I am utterly and completely convinced that it was absolutely necessary for those who were present in that upper room to be in unity with each other in order that the events of that day would be possible. There is not a doubt in my mind that the events which took place on the Day of Pentecost would and even could have taken place in any type of individual setting and/or context. It is true that there were specific examples found within the book of Acts concerning the Holy Spirit being poured out upon Gentiles, however, when it came to the release and outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, there was a great and wonderful need for community, for fellowship, for prayer, and for unity one with another in order that the right context and environment might be created and manifested within the earth.

When you consider the fact that Jesus could have prayed absolutely anything when speaking unto the Father on this particular night, it is absolutely captivating and breathtaking to think about the fact that what He prayed for more than anything else was that the disciples and church would be one with each other even as He and the Father would be one. It would be in this context of their being one, and this context of their walking, living and dwelling in unity that would stand and serve as the context for the events which took place on the Day of Pentecost . Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that there is a tremendous and great need within our hearts and lives for a very real sense of unity with others whom we have been called to live and dwell in community with, for it is only in the context and setting of unity that we can truly experience and encounter that which Jesus the Christ has ordained and appointed for us. It was in the context of unity and community the events of the day of Pentecost would and could even be made possible, and I am convinced that it is in the context of unity within our own corporate settings that we can find and experience a wonderful and incredible manifestation of the Holy Spirit within our midst. When you consider the fact that Jesus could have prayed for absolutely anything on the night in which He was betrayed, it is absolutely remarkable and astounding to think about and consider the fact that what He chose to pray was that the disciples would be one even as He and the Father were one. Jesus knew and understood that the reality of the person and presence of the Holy Spirit would be experienced in a corporate context and corporate setting, which was evidenced and manifested on the Day of Pentecost. We dare not, we cannot and must not miss and lose sight of the absolutely awesome and incredible reality that the events which we find on the Day of Pentecost were intrinsically linked and connected to the corporate reality and context of the unity of the body and the unity of the church. We dare not think and consider—even for a moment—that the events which took place on the Day of Pentecost would and could have been made possible without and apart from anything other than the one-hundred and twenty abiding together in unity there in the upper room. I firmly believe that there are more times than not when the corporate context of fellowship, community and unity is absolutely critical and necessary for the expression and experience of the Holy Spirit, and that regardless of how we might try to manufacture and produce it in an individual and isolated context—the truth of the matter is that there are times when we need the fellowship and community of the corporate body around us in order for the manifestation of the Holy Spirit to be present within our congregations and assemblies. Regardless of how we might try to make such a reality manifest in our own individual and self-seeking and self-absorbed worlds—the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t what Jesus the Christ desired, and even prayed when speaking directly unto the Father on the night in which He was betrayed.

The more I think about and the more I consider the words which Jesus prayed before and unto the Father on the night in which He was betrayed, the more I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that what was most important to Him in that moment was that the disciples and the church would be one with each other, and that they would live in fellowship and community one with each other. Oh, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found and written in the New Testament book of Acts which help reveal and speak to the awesome and incredible reality that the early church did in fact live in complete and total unity, community and fellowship with each other. If you begin reading within the first chapter, and continue reading into the second chapter—and even into the fourth chapter—you will find specific examples of the unity and fellowship of the early church, and how not only did they live and dwell in unity and community, but it was in that setting and context they found themselves experiencing the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. There is not a doubt in my mind that more often than not when we seek to avoid the corporate setting and the corporate context—what we are actually doing is severing ourselves from the expression and manifestation of the Holy Spirit within our lives and within our midst. Consider if you will the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts beginning in and with the first chapter, and then continuing to what is written in the second and fourth chapters of the same book. Beginning with the twelfth verse of the first chapter you will find the following words which were written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke concerning the disciples, and even certain women of their company:

“Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren” (Acts 1:12-14).

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in once place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language, and they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans” And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:1-8).

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believe were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:41-47).

“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as He had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32-37).

Before Jesus would lead the disciples into the garden of Gethsemane—a place of intimacy, fellowship, community and prayer which they were all familiar with—Jesus would speak directly unto the Father concerning the disciples, and would speak unto the Father that the disciples would be one with each other, and would abide together in unity, in fellowship, in community, and in relationship with each other. I still find it absolutely astonishing that when speaking unto the Father Jesus could have prayed anything in His hearing, and yet that which seemed to be of utmost importance to Him was not that they would do great works, nor that they would preach great sermons, nor even that they would minister to great crowds of thousands, but that they would be one with each other—even as He and the Father were one. Please don’t lose sight of this, and please don’t miss out on this reality, for to do so would be to miss out on what seems to be the most important to Jesus and what He focuses on in His absence as He returned unto the Father who was in heaven. In His absence Jesus could have been concerned with great works, great signs, great wonders, and great sermons and teaching, and yet that which mattered most to Him was that the disciples and church would be one with each other even as He and the Father would be one. In other words, there was no context, nor was there any setting for any self-sourcing and self absorbed mindset within and among the disciples which would remain within and upon the earth. Jesus prayed earnestly unto the Father that the disciples would be one with each other, for He knew and understood that it would be in that context of being one with each other that the true expression of the Holy Spirit would and could be manifested within the earth and in their midst. It’s important that you search the Scriptures and find and discover that nowhere does Jesus ever promote an individualistic and isolated mindset and context, but rather He sought to instill within the hearts and minds of the disciples that they desperately needed each other, and they desperately needed the fellowship and community of the corporate context of the body. In other words, there was absolutely no room for any expression of individuals and isolation, but there needed to be a strong and wonderful sense of recognizing the need for one another, and the need for that which others have to offer and provide. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand about the corporate context and corporate reality, it’s that each and every one of us has something unique which we bring to the table when we gather around it together, and that more often than not it takes each and every one of us with our own gifts in order for a true and powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit to take place and be present within our lives. Oh that we would recognize and understand the tremendous and great importance of our need to be one with each other, and our need for one another in order that we might find and experience the corporate manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our midst. Oh that we would lay aside this individualistic mindset and that we would lay aside our own self-absorbed lives that focuses only on ourselves and has absolutely no room for anyone else.

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