‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
‘Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.’ (NRSV).
There is something sobering about the direct way Jesus prays for those who are yet to become students of his way. Through the witness of these first disciples others will come to know this new and life-filled path. Others, perhaps, like you and me.
And if that is the case, Jesus is praying for us.
Almost two-thousand years ago, Jesus had an inkling of future generations that would seek to live out the message he preached. Indeed, it was so strong that he prayed for them. With limited time before his suffering, death, and resurrection, Jesus prioritised praying for you and for me.
And it is not a random, ‘God bless those who will believe’. It is specific. It has both content and intent.
At its core, this is a prayer for unity. And not just any kind of unity. This is a prayer for unity like that displayed in the Godhead. Jesus wants to see in our communal life a unity and a love, like that displayed in the Trinity.
It is a prayer for radical oneness.
And oneness cannot be done alone. Love and unity are communal characteristics. This is not about the individual. It is about us.
And others. This unity is not simply imagined so that we may all live in some abstract, eternal bliss. It is much more grounded and important than this.
It is about our witness to the world. This prayer is prayed: ‘…so that the world may believe that you sent me.’ Indeed it is said twice: ‘…so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.’
The world does not yet know God like this odd collection of first century labourers do. It seems such a tentative beginning to the salvation of the world – a link in this cosmic chain that needs serious bolstering. Perhaps these men need more than a final prayer, a reminder of God’s presence, and each other.
But of course, it is enough.
And yet, somehow, it isn’t.
Make no mistake, a world movement began here. Extraordinary unity has, at times, been on display in the name of this Jesus. This love of God has, at times, been spread before a world that really has been able to recognise its uniqueness.
But not always.
At times our love looks much more like hate. And our twisted versions of peace can resemble something close to war.
Perhaps there is something more wonderful than we initially imagine going on here. We are able to read a final prayer of Jesus – an expression of his vision and hope for us. Love. Unity. Oneness. It would seem that our lives together are to resemble the mystery of the One God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
And I am left wondering if all this points to a call to constant, life-long adoration of the Holy Trinity.
After all, it has long been observed that we come to resemble that which we worship.