Carol Heckman

- 6/2/2019


John 17:20-26

In chapter 17 in the gospel of John, we have a plea for Jesus’ followers to become one. It is a poetic prayer that is simultaneously beautiful and repetitive, as we would expect to find in the Gospel of John.  We get a glimpse into Jesus’ heart and longing for the believing community, which is another opportunity to try to grasp how Jesus understands unity. “That they may be one” (John 17:21) refers to a unity that moves beyond agreeing on important issues or accepting differences and into a mirroring of nature of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. Here, as elsewhere in the gospels, we are given the model of the Trinity for our own relationships. Unity can be defined not in the specific terms of our own design, but as a reflection of the relationship modeled by God in His Son, Jesus.

The foundation of the relationship of the believing community is based on the relationship of the Triune God, which the disciples glimpse in an intimate moment of Jesus’ prayer: Jesus embodies the character of this relationship by asking God to be with the disciples in a moment of intimacy, and trusting in his relationship to show such vulnerability as a model of true unity. Jesus is advocating for those whom God has marked by love and sent in love, for the benefit of the larger community. In the difficult and, often, painful work of trying to live together in community, we are called to take the next step and embody the presence of God for those to whom love is a stranger.

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