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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

JESUS' PRAYER OF INTERCESSION, PART 5

John 17:20-23 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 Thou 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.

After Jesus had prayed to God that He would glorify Him through His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension back into heaven, He prayed that God would protect, guide, and give knowledge and understanding to His apostles. However, neither pray I for these alone. Now His prayer of intercession to God turns to His disciples of all ages - His Christian brethren; the members of His body, the church of Christ. His prayer of intercession to God was now extended to all, which shall believe on Me through their word. "Their word" refers to the preaching of the gospel of salvation by Jesus' apostles which began on the Day of Pentecost following Jesus' return to His Heavenly Father. For those that lived after the age of the apostles' teaching, and for those living today, "their word" is that which, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, taught God's truths to the world as found in the New Testament - that which was written aforetime ...for our learning (Rom. 15:4).

By referring to those who shall believe on Me through their word, we know this prayer was especially made on behalf of those that would in the future, through the preaching of the gospel of Christ, be born again through obedience that culminated in baptism for the remission of their sins and were added to His church, which is His body. This fact should be comforting to all disciples of Christ. The comfort of Jesus, extended through His prayer of intercession, is extended to all Christians throughout the world. It is extended regardless of the trials and tribulations they may face during life on earth, the poverty they may experience, the color of their skin, the lack of formal education, or the fact that a man or woman may be excluded from certain levels of society because of their heritage. It is comforting to know, without any doubt, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, continually intercedes to our Father in heaven for our physical and spiritual welfare.

Throughout this intercessory prayer we find the intimate, unified relationship between Jesus Christ and His Heavenly Father. He is in the Father, and the Father is in Him; all that belongs to the Father belongs to Jesus, and all He possesses is also owned by the Father. The message of both God and Christ Jesus, to the world is the same; their common interest and desire is to bring salvation into the world and make it available to all mankind. God and Christ have a mutual love and devotion for each other, and it is that same unified relationship that Jesus desires and prays to exist among all members of His body - all that, through obedience to God's will, wear His name as Christians. For His Christian brethren, Jesus prays That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee.

Such a loving and unified relationship among the members of His church is, not only desired by Him, but the very essence of His prayer commands it to be so. With this in mind, how does anyone truly believe that God and His Son, Jesus Christ is pleased with the division that exists among the numerous and varied denominations that are found in today's world. If this prayer were believed and heeded by all spiritual leaders, denominationalism would not exist, because unity would be religiously sought for, found, and put into practice. Likewise, God and His Son, Jesus Christ are just as displeased when quarreling, gossip, backbiting, discord, and dissension results in the existence of factions, disharmony, and disunity among brethren within His church. And why is unity necessary within the church of Christ? Jesus gives us the answer: that the world may believe that thou hast sent Me.

Joy, happiness, contentment, and UNITY must exist in Christ's church in order for people of the world to accept Jesus as their Savior, repent and turn away from their sinful lives, confess Him to be the Son of God, and be baptized and buried in a grave of water for the remission of their sins, to rise cleansed of all sins, and ready to walk in newness of life. Unity is not only needful in the body of Christ, it is necessary in order to successfully bring God's plan of eternal salvation into a lost and dying world. Satan and his followers are unified; they strive daily and relentlessly to bring disunity among God's children. Jesus sincerely praysfor unity among all members of His church - 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.