On the night of Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples, He made two incredible statements about the posture of His church before a watching world, a posture that would provide undeniable evidence of His Messiah-ship and the true mark of a disciple. These two manifestations are unity and love. Let’s take a moment to look at the first.
Just before leaving the upper room, Jesus prayed for unity among His followers, no less than three times. Here is part of that prayer from John 17. “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. 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 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.”
Jesus not only prayed for His disciples who were present that night, He also prayed for every future born again believer, who would trust in Christ as a result of their original witness. But the prayer for all is the same, that they would be one just as Jesus and His Father are one. Or, as He put it, that they would be perfected in unity. And the power of such unity? That the world would see in that unity, evidence that Jesus Christ is exactly who He claimed to be, Israel’s Messiah, the Savior of the world. My friends, these are Jesus’ words, not mine.
Note that Jesus did not pray for uniformity, He prayed for unity. The difference? Uniformity is everyone doing everything in lock step. Unity is oneness of purpose. And that purpose is spelled out for us by the Apostle Peter in his first epistle, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).
Called to proclaim the excellencies of Him, who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. That is the church’s unifying purpose, a unity that has the power to reveal to the watching world that Jesus is indeed Savior of the World.
Next time, we will talk about the second evidence that Jesus spoke of that night, love for one another.