It’s time to take a quiz. It’s just a single question: On a scale of 1-10, how needy are you? I bet it’s not the question you get asked everyday. Let’s face it, we’re pretty needy people. We want to make sure that all of our needs are taken care of, that all of our wants are taken care of, and all desires that our little hearts can think of are taken care of. That’s just who we are, needy people, but what can expect from sinful man after all? Throughout history, there is only one person who is not needy, and that is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
On the night before He gave the supreme sacrifice of His death, our Lord Jesus Christ poured out His heart to God His Father in prayer. We have the record of that prayer in the Gospel of St. John. Our Lord not only prays for Himself, that He would not waiver from the task of redeeming the world by giving His life, but He prays for His disciples and for those who would believe in Him through their word. He prayed that they would all be one.
Jesus had one desire here in His last hours: that the people would be one in and through His Word. The prayer of Jesus is for all peoples, that they would be joined to Him and the Church through the word of the apostles, which is really the Word of Jesus. Our Lord’s prayer is “that they may all be one.” Christ speaks of all of them, for there are indeed many. They will be gathered from all nations, from the ends of the earth and they shall be one in Him and through Him. Christ speaks of a perfect union into one body. In fact, it is a union as perfect as the union existing between the Father and Son. As the Father and Son are perfectly united in themselves, so they are also perfectly united in the believers. This unity is from God. It is a miraculous gift given by God through Christ and the Holy Spirit. It is a unity that comes to people who hear and believe the message of the Gospel. And Jesus states that we are the ones who have been given the privilege of sharing that Gospel.
What Jesus prays here in our text for the faithful and effective witness that we as the Church give to others. Jesus prays to the Father about out witness as He speaks of “those who will believe in me through their word.” Our Lord gives us the privilege of being the vessels by whom the Word, which brings unity with God and with one another, can come. Jesus prays to the Father about our witness that the Good News of the Gospel would be heard and believed by all who hear its sweet message. If the Church is to find unity, it is to be found only in Jesus, in the Word of God made flesh.
Our Lord rejoices in the unity that comes to us through the Word. This is a unity that comes from above, as seen in the relationship between the Father and the Son. Unity is a good thing, especially for the Church and Her work, but disunity is always at hand. It first reared its ugly head in the Garden of Eden. Disunity continues through every aspect of creation today because of sin. Only a miracle will destroy this disunity in creation and bring about God’s perfect unity. For us, we have that miracle – the Lord Jesus Christ!
From the moment of man’s sin, God made a promise that unity would be restored. The promise was kept in the form of a babe born to meek and lowly parents. The promise was kept as that babe grew into a man who gave His life upon a cross to forgive the sins of all and bring about unity between God and His creation. The promise was kept as He rose victorious from the dead, ascending to heaven to prepare a place for you in the restored order.
By the miracle of the cross, unity was restored. There, the sin-caused fracture between God and His creation is healed. On the cross, the very Son of God, who is one with the Father from all eternity, is in some astounding way separated from His Father. The Son of God, who is one with the Father, experiences on our behalf a terrible disunity with the Father, so that we might be brought back into unity with the Father.
All of this is done with you in mind, that you would be brought into union with God the Father and Jesus the Son once again. This is a present reality for you now, accomplished for you on Calvary’s cross. This comes to us through the grace of God in Christ Jesus. It is not something that is acquired my means of agreeing to be different, by something that you do or by something that you earn. This is something that is present for you here and now, with no work needed on your part.
It is our privilege to live out this unity so that others will know that Jesus and His message of salvation are indeed true. He’s given you His Word, and His Word makes and keeps you one. Faith comes by hearing His Word, which He gave to us through His prophets and apostles. By His Word, He has called you by the Gospel to be His child, to be one with His body and one with Him. His Word is the means to gather us together, and His Word is His means to keep us together, one in Him. That is why we gladly repent of our sins of ignoring His Word in favor of our sinful, divisive desires, for it is in His Word that He forgives our sins and keeps us one with Him.
Jesus has given you His glory. He prays to His Father, “The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.” The glory of Jesus is foremost the cross, for that is the ultimate act of love for us. He has given His cross to you—He’s joined you to it in your baptism. He’s joined you to His death and resurrection. Without that, you would have to die your own death for sin, isolated from God forever. But because He’s shared the glory of His cross with you, you are now one in Him. That is why we gladly repent of our sins that would separate us from His life and lead us to death, for Christ has opened to us the way of salvation.
Jesus has given us His Word, His glory and His name. It is by these gifts that He has made us one. It is by these gifts that He keeps us one. This unity may not be the most dramatic or exciting at times. This is all the Lord’s doing, and so you can be sure: you are one with His body, the Church, and one with Christ: for His Word, His glory and His name are all summed up in these words to you: you are one with Christ, because you are forgiven for all of your sins. In the name of Jesus, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.