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1 The Son's Great Prayer
If you believe in Christ, and believe He is the only begotten of the Father, then be assured, Jesus will have all His prayers answered. A time is coming, and now is, when both heaven and earth shall respond to Jesus' prayer, "that they may all be one" (John 17:21).
Jesus, the Same Forever
On the night before He died, the most somber night in Jesus' life, the Lord brought His most lofty request to God. He prayed for oneness in His church. Christ's prayer is both visionary and practical considering that, on that same evening, an argument arose among His disciples as to which of them was the greatest (Luke 22:24). In spite of their immaturity, selfish ambitions, and envy, Jesus harbored no second thoughts or unbelief when He prayed that they may all be one. Even as the Son of God appealed for them, be assured He is praying for us now. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He will never lower His standards (see John 12:48); He will not modify His promises (see Matthew 24:35); and His intercession will remain unfailing until we attain His goal for us in God (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). To know Christ is to know His heart toward His church. Once again, look at His relationship with His disciples that Passover night. If an observer compared the instructions of Christ with the responses of His disciples, he would have concluded that there was little communication between them. Jesus presented His vision of a church motivated by His love and humility. In contrast, His disciples dwelt in carnal desires and weaknesses. Consider that while Jesus prayed they would be "perfected in unity" (John 17:23), the only unity the disciples knew that night was a common fear and a collective abandonment of Christ. Consider this: Jesus told these soon-to-be leaders of the Jerusalem church that they would be known for their untiring agape love, but that night Christ's three closest friends could not remain awake with Him even one hour while He agonized alone in prayer. His disciples were deaf to His promises, blind to His sacrifice, and ignorant of His vision; they were without revelation, obedience, or courage. Yet, in spite of themselves, Jesus told these very men, "He who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do" (John 14:12). How could they ever attain His works? Oh, the grace and love of Jesus! They would do His works because He was about to "go to the Father" (John 14:12), where He would ever live to make intercession for them! There have always existed two realms in the definition of the church: one is the place of beginnings, the disciple's world, cluttered with human fears and worldly ambitions. The second reality is the place of destination, the eternal, glorious realm that Jesus died to give us. The Living Span bridging both is Christ's cross and intercession. Any time the church awakens to the promises of God, the way to holiness and power is already there. Christians must only agree with the Father's plan. The shallow, immature level of the church has never stopped Christ from praying for its perfection. He could no sooner stop praying than cease being the Son of God. Jesus is the Redeemer of mankind. Even in wrath, His motive is redemption! Christ's Commitment to His Church
Jesus has always known the frailty of His church. He knows that when we commit our lives to Him, it is not a commitment that says, "I will never sin again; I will always be good." Try as we may, if we could keep such a resolution, we would not have needed Christ to save us! Our salvation is not built upon what we do, but upon Who Jesus becomes to us. Our commitment to Him is an acknowledgment that we have come to the end of ourselves: we need a savior. Having thus discovered no righteousness within us, we have entrusted both our condition and our future to Him. We commit ourselves to obey Him, but we frequently fail. We are required to know His Word, but we barely understand it. We pledge ourselves to follow, but how often we find ourselves lost! Our salvation is an abandonment to His ability to keep that which we have committed unto Him (2 Timothy 1:12). He who thinks otherwise has never come face to face with his need for God. As the Lord's church, we must each discover the sustaining and renewing power of Christ's prayer. Without such knowledge, we will be overwhelmed by the many times we fail. Peter discovered Christ's unchanging commitment that last night. Though others failed, Peter boasted of his commitment; he would not fail. However, Jesus told His upstart disciple how, that very night, he would deny His Lord three times. Not only did Peter fail, but all Christ's disciples deserted Him that night. What was the Lord's reaction? Did He chasten Peter, express His personal offense, or shame him? No. Although there are times when Christ must rebuke us, Jesus prayed that, though Peter would fail, his faith would continue and he would be a strength to his brothers (Luke 22:32). Immediately after warning Peter of his impending denial Jesus further comforted His disciples. He encouraged them, "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me" (John 14:1). While this verse is suitable for calming any troubled heart, Jesus was speaking uniquely and compassionately to His disciples. Incredibly, it was Jesus, about to go to the cross, who comforted the very disciples who were about to deny Him! We do not truly know Christ until we have failed and find Him still our friend, drawn ever closer to us by our repentance and our need. What is true concerning His devotion to us as individuals is true concerning His commitment to a repentant citywide church as well. Our failings have not disqualified us from God's purposes. If we turn and trust Him again, we will find that the same Lord who requires we obey Him remained our Redeemer and Intercessor when we failed Him.
The Father's Unchanging Purpose
Two things exist that are greater and more enduring than the failings of the church. According to Scripture, these two things are "the unchangeableness of [God's] purpose" (Hebrews 6:17) and the permanent, priestly intercession of Christ (Hebrews 7:24-25). Jesus, intimately familiar with the holy intentions of the Father, knows that it is not God's will for the church to be fearful, ambitious, or jealous. Christ can pray with confidence for divine love, unity, and glory to adorn His church, for these are God's will. Jesus' prayers are always answered because He only prays for what is already in the Father's heart. The confidence of Christ's prayer is based upon His own personal virtue, not that of the church. Through His sacrifice, "He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him" (Hebrews 7:25). This same verse in the King James Version reads: "he is able also to save them to the uttermost?" Thus, the price has been paid, not only to bring us to heaven when we die, but to bring the life of heaven here where we live. It seems that the Lord's disciples frequently carried the burden of wrong attitudes and aberrant concepts. Yet, in spite of their immaturity, Jesus unhesitantly prayed for the most holy of possibilities: that they would become the human abode for the Trinity of God -- a promise that was almost blasphemous to an Old Testament mind (John 14:16-17, 23)! When we unite with Christ in His purpose and His prayer, eternal life is released for our need on earth. His prayer is the water that flows from the throne of God; He is the River of Life that sustains and directs every move of God. No soul is saved that He has not first died for; no relationship is healed but what comes forth originally from His intervention. What happens when we agree with Christ in prayer? As we persevere, a circuit of life is completed between heaven and earth. Christ's prayer carries us into the provision of God; our prayer, united with His, brings God's provision back to the need. The revivals and harvests we see emerging around the world, the collapse of communism, and the exodus of Jews back to Israel were all birthed as individuals agreed with the intercession of Christ and the plan of God. Do we truly believe what God has provided for us in holiness, power, and glory? If so, let us persevere with Christ in confidence, knowing that all the Father has given will be brought to earth through prayer.