Bible reading for Mar 27 -- Exodus 38; John 17.
"And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." (John 17:3)
The high priestly prayer. This chapter has intrigued me all of my Christian life and it is one of my very favorite passages in all of Scripture. It is at once beautiful, caring, and yet mysterious and profound. It is a deep well of wonder, giving us a window on the relationship of the Father and the Son. Carefully note the terms and phrases Jesus uses: glory and glorify, "those whom you gave me", an accomplished work of giving his disciples the name and words of the Father, and "that they may be one", along with Father and Son. We learn that eternal life is not merely living forever or even living forever in a new creation. Eternal life is to know the Father, and the Son whom he has sent, and to share in that glorious relationship within the triune God. I admit freely that I have only the barest understanding about what all this means.
Note also that in this prayer there is no disparaging of Christ's disciples. There is no mention of their sins, unworthiness, or failings, but rather they are viewed as a gift given to him from his Father, whom he saved, and and who will be sanctified through his word. This a petition that they be protected and brought safely into the glory of the Son with the Father. His petition reveals to us something about how he intercedes for believers even while he is now in the Father's presence. In this prayer he also prays for you and me (17:20). And he continues to do so, as Paul writes, "Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died - more than that, who was raised - who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us" (Rom 8:33-34). What great, great comfort for us! Robert Murray M'Cheyne once wrote, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me."
The unity that Christ prays for is not some institutional conglomeration of churches in the future, but rather is the in-fact spiritual union of all believers in Christ and in truth (his sanctifying word). All true believers have this unity, as the Apostle Paul writes that they should be "...eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph 4:3). It is already there, and we are called to preserve it, not create it. And this, "For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and all were made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Cor 12:13). The spiritual unity of all Christians is a present reality that we are called upon to protect. This means we cultivate good attitudes toward others, forgive and ask forgiveness when needed, seek reconciliation with those whom we have offended, and always work to build up the body of Christ (Eph 4:1-16). Our Christian relationships should reflect the love and honor seen between God the Father and our Lord Jesus his Son.
Image above: silhouette of Christ the Redeemer statue at night, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photographer unknown.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.