God has given us a beautiful gift in John 17: a glimpse into the heart of Jesus Christ and his relationship with His Father. The Bible is full of great prayers, but perhaps none reveals the heart and purpose of God better than this one, uttered just hours before the crucifixion.
Jesus lifts up his eyes as if to make eye contact with His Father, zeroing in on the will of God. He prays according to His own need, “Father, glorify Thy Son…,” for He knows that he needs the Father’s help for the approaching task. But his prayer is anything but selfish. The strengthening He needs is because He is to give the ultimate sacrifice for us in order to release the Father’s desire into the earth.
There are so many facets of this prayer that it would take many blogs to do it justice. I want to point out three things from verses 20-23 that particularly apply to our vision at Trinity Community Church.
I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be (made one) in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.
This prayer opens our eyes to three things intertwined in God’s purposes in the Church:
Belonging (or unity) — “that they may be made one.”
Growing (or sanctification) — “that they may be perfected.”
Serving (or mission) — “that the world may know that You sent Me.”
These key words are repeated over and over in this prayer. We know that Jesus warned against “vain repetition” in prayer (Matthew 6:7). He taught that we shouldn’t think that we will be heard just because we repeat things over and over, as though our incantation will cause the thing to happen. So, Jesus is not vainly repeating these words here, but rather emphasizing for our sakes the most important things that were on God’s heart, in light of the crucifixion and resurrection that was about to take place.
Right relationships, growing in our faith and making Jesus known to the world are major themes on God’s heart. You will, of course, notice that these key concepts in Jesus’ prayer are also the key words of our vision at TCC (Belong, Grow, Serve). This is not an accident. These things should be the heartbeat of any local church, for Jesus died to ensure that they would happen on the earth.
We have an amazing opportunity, a powerful privilege to work together with Jesus to see these things happen – to see His prayer answered in our generation, in our city. Jesus prayed that we would be empowered to do these things in order to spread the rule of God throughout the earth.
His prayer will not go unanswered. Let us be among the few who dare to rise up and allow Him to do it through us!