Unity in the New Life

KEY VERSE: “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” —John 17:11

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: John 17:1-11, 20, 21

IT IS evident that throughout his ministry Jesus considered it very important for his disciples to learn how completely he was in agreement with his Heavenly Father. He fashioned his life and his teachings so that they would be a reflection of God’s character, purpose, and being. That our Lord considered this the crux of his work here on earth is obvious from the words of this prayer: “I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou gayest me to do. … Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee, for I have given them the words which thou gayest me … and they have believed that thou didst send me.”—John 17:4-8

The thought is suggested in the key verse that those who enjoy this glorious favor of being one with God are kept through his name. In the name of Jehovah is represented all that he is and does and stands for. While Jesus, the living expression of the Heavenly Father’s name, was with his disciples they were kept by him. But he told them that after his departure, the “Spirit of truth” would come to continue this function, revealing the Heavenly Father in a different way, through the Scriptures. The harmonious detail of God’s plan revealed in his Word has allowed us to see him in the very way that he proclaimed his name to Moses: “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.”—Exod. 34:6,7

To know God in this way allows us the opportunity of being in agreement with him, and to follow his will and purpose. A beautiful Biblical illustration of this is expressed in the idea of walking with God. The Prophet Amos asks the question, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” The obvious and scriptural answer is that they cannot. Thus it is emphasized that to walk with the Lord one must be in harmony with him, desirous of knowing his will, and fully surrendered to it.

Isaiah wrote: “Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee saying, This is the way, walk ye in it.” The ‘way’ is the way in which the Lord walks, and the way in which we must walk if we desire to walk with him. The ‘word’ which we hear from behind is the entire Word of God, which reveals the divine plan of salvation and the place we are privileged to occupy therein.

Jesus was our great example. John wrote, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (John 2:6) So closely did Jesus walk with his Heavenly Father that he could say, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” In walking with God, Jesus was guided by the ‘word’ from behind. The phrase, “It is written,” was his reason for every step which he took. If then we profess to be his, and to abide in him, we ought to walk as he walked.—John 14:9; Acts 13:29

In this beautiful prayer from which our text is taken, our Lord expresses his heart’s desire that his followers would share his future glory, as joint heirs in his kingdom. “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.”—John 17:24

At first thought, having others share in the glory of the kingdom might seem to be lessening the stature and the glory of Jesus. But our wonderful exemplar, far from any feeling of rivalry or competitiveness, rejoiced in this feature of the divine plan, and worked tirelessly to make its accomplishment possible. If we could but keep before our minds this grand display of love and unselfishness how it would help us to quickly root out any seeds of envy, bitterness and strife which might mar our oneness with each other. Indeed, this thought is incorporated in the expression of our text, “that they may be one, as we are.”

Thus we walk and talk together with our God, and it this mutual walk of faith and joy which will eventually, beyond the veil, culminate in our being presented to our Heavenly Father by Jesus in the full oneness of his divine family. “They shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy.”—Rev. 3:4

Dawn Bible Students Association
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