How many times do I say Father
To understand God’s answer to the oldest question in the universe requires an understanding of the union of God. John 17 is the most important passage in understanding biblical unity. It provides a glimpse into the inner workings of the union of God through an interaction between Jesus and his Father (head). It reveals the ultimate purpose of Jesus and his followers.

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.”
(John 17:6-8 ESV)

To put it simply Jesus’ purpose in becoming human was to perpetuate unity in his Father. Jesus specifically prays for unity amongst all his followers, asking that all his people would be one as he and his Father are one. So this unity Christ came to establish was a human union in the image of his union with his Father. Making his union with his Father his motivation for doing this, unity perpetuates unity and disunity only perpetuates disunity.

In John 17 Christ demonstrates his union with his Father in the following ways:
• Jesus shows that he has an intimate understanding of the purposes and timing of God, not only for himself but for all those he was given (for his given purpose).
o Jesus knows that because his Father has given him authority over all flesh (to give eternal life in a new human union) it is time for him to return to his Father’s side. (vs2-5)
• All those who follow Jesus have been given to him by God the Father (vs2, 6 & 10). In unity all things come from God for the good of all.
• The words that Jesus gave to his followers were given to him by God the Father (vs7-8).
• Jesus has manifested the name of God the Father to his followers. More than words, his whole existence reveals God, unity and subjection to God (vs6).

Jesus’ union with his Father becomes apparant through his obedience to his Father in unity, meaning that the actions of Christ perfectly reflect his father to the world. By manifesting his Father’s name Christ is actively living out his union with his Father and teaching others to do the same. For Christ, manifesting his Father’s name means putting his Father’s name first in everything and doing nothing that his Father hasn’t first given him to do.

Subsequently Jesus’ (the Father’s) union with his people becomes evident through their obedience to the word and model of obedience they received from the Father through Christ. They trust in Christ believing that he came from his Father because of his obedience to his Father in unity. So they obey because Christ was obedient first. This was Christ’s purpose, to re-establish unity in God the Father. However obedience to the Father is not possible without first being united him.

And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
(John 17:11-12 ESV)

To be united to God is to persevere in unity (for eternity). Jesus asks his Father that all those he is given would persevere under his Father’s power, so that they may be one as God is one. It is only by persevering in the power of God that his people are one in the same way God is one (eternally). Jesus is not only praying for those who had been given to him at the time of his prayer, but all who he is given/all who will believe in him. This is so that their union would reflect the union of God and through their obedience in unity the whole world would know that Jesus was sent from God.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just 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 have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 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. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.
(John 17:20-23 ESV)

Christ specifically prays that his followers remain in the world (for a time) just as the Father sent him into the world (To be clear this is a unity of all believers) so that through their union the world would know that Christ was sent by his Father. Christ does not want his people to be in the world forever, asking that they might be with him in his presence so that they may see him in his full glory, the glory that he had with his Father before the beginning of creation (the glory of God in perfect unity). Christ is not praying this prayer to say that he is finished making his Father’s name known. Rather his union with the father is perfect; he will never be done making his Father’s name known or doing the will of his Father, this would require him to forget himself. This is what it means to persevere in unity; continual obedience to God the Father in Christ, making him known in every word and action, so that the love of God might be all and in all.

I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
(John 17:24-26 ESV)

This passage is a profound piece of scripture demonstrating the importance of unity in the image of God.

  1. […] “Make them one as we are one.” ( […]

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