Father, help us understand the importance of our interdependence and unity in reflecting who You are to both each other and our neighbors. Help us to value Your presence in the world much more highly than our own preferences or petty disagreements. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read John 17-18
HOW TO BE “IN THE WORLD”
What does it mean to be “in the world”? Watch a 3-minute video on How to Know You’re on Mission.
By Jeff Vanderstelt. © Verge Network. http://www.vergenetwork.org. Used by permission.
John 17 The way to live forever is to know God through Jesus. Jesus’ life honored the Father perfectly by showing people what God is like, by bringing God’s people back into reconciled relationship with Him. God has given those people His name, and will use it to protect them with His Spirit until they live with Him in person forever. Jesus loved the disciples deeply and grieved over leaving them, asking the Father to keep them safe, unified, and faithful under attack and difficulty.
Notice that the disciples’ growth didn’t end when Jesus leaves them; it continued through the Holy Spirit of God, who speaks and works with each believer personally.
THE PURPOSE OF UNITY…
…is to show God’s love. (video 1:30)
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Believers are in God’s family through Jesus. They should share love, values, behavior, and mutual commitment like close siblings. With this unified front, believers will show they truly know and belong to God.
John 18:1–27 Judas, one of the disciples, betrays Jesus to the religious leaders who then arrest and violently interrogate Him. Jesus identifies Himself to the leaders; He refuses to resist or ask the other disciples to protect Him. As he tries to follow the arrest, Peter denies being Jesus’ disciple twice, just as Jesus predicted he would. While interrogated by the high priest (top religious/political leader), Jesus refuses to defend or explain Himself.
Notice that Jesus’ spoken words “I AM He” (18:6) were powerful enough to knock the soldiers and officers to the ground. Jesus’ claims have gained impact as He’s modeled obedience and demonstrated God’s power. However, at this point, Jesus chooses to speak very little and completely surrenders to their abuse on His way to die.
John 18:28–40 After several hours of trial with the religious authorities, Jesus was dragged to the political court, where the Roman governor Pilate found Him legally innocent. The religious leaders forced Pilate to retain Him as a criminal, however, because the Jewish leaders couldn’t enforce death sentences.
Notice how Jesus justifies His apparent indefensibility—it’s not because He’s powerless, it’s because He’s establishing a new spiritual kingdom—one that is not grasped by coercion or force of will.
22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
- Many people have a hard time accepting Jesus’ claims about Himself because of how awful and weak the end of His life looked. It’s difficult to believe that Jesus could both embody the eternal, powerful God and be gruesomely killed. But John 18 (verses 4, 8–9, and 36–37) gives some insight into Jesus’ perspective and how He was completely tied to accomplishing God’s plan and establishing God’s invisible, counter-intuitive kingdom. (See also John 14:30–31.)
Choose two of the following:
- Are there any fellow disciples with whom you’re not fully reconciled? Are there those you refuse to love equally because of disagreements or differences? Based on this section, believers are responsible to love and be unified with their spiritual family. Make plans this week to attempt reconciliation; act on God’s love for the person you’ve alienated.
- Take notes about Jesus’ prayer in John 17, paying particular attention to His priorities, values, and posture. How can this reshape the way you pray with your fellow disciples or family?
- Jesus prepared His disciples to keep their faith in His words and promises, even when it looked like everything was lost—like when He was killed or when suffering came after He ascended to the Father. How can you use John 18:42–43, 9:39, 14:17, 16:1–4, 16:33, 18:36, 19:11, and 20:31 to articulate your belief in Jesus’ claims and power despite the apparent fallenness of the world and arguable absence of God’s kingdom today?
- Are any of your new ethnically different friends interested in reading the Bible with you? Ask someone. Consider meeting weekly with them and reading through a book of the Bible. [All Peoples, Making Disciples]