20 “I pray not only for them, but also for those who believe in me because of their message.
21 I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me.
22 I gave them the same glory you gave me, so that they may be one, just as you and I are one:
23 I in them and you in me, so that they may be completely one, in order that the world may know that you sent me and that you love them as you love me.
24 Father! You have given them to me, and I want them to be with me where I am, so that they may see my glory, the glory you gave me; for you loved me before the world was made.
25 Righteous Father! The world does not know you, but I know you, and these know that you sent me.
26 I made you known to them, and I will continue to do so, in order that the love you have for me may be in them, and so that I also may be in them.”
Other readings: Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 97:1-2, 6-7, 9; Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20
Today we share part of what has come to be known as Jesus’s High Priestly Prayer. This is the jewel and the final part of Jesus’s teaching for his disciples before his Passion.
Unity is at the heart of this prayer. Jesus prays repeatedly that his disciples will experience the same unity that he enjoys with the Father. And this prayer is not just for those disciples that were with him that evening. This unity isn’t limited in any way by time or space. It is for all his believers for all time.
It is a mystery of God’s grace that frail human beings can be in such unity. Two things, however, seem to be essential. First, to be in relationship and unity with God the Father and with Jesus: “may they be in us” (verse 21). Secondly, to have God’s unconditional love in us: “that the love you have for me may be in them” (verse 26).
This unity has a glorious purpose – to draw others to God the Father through Jesus. Through this unity people will believe that God loves them and sent Jesus to save them. Jesus’s prayer is bold and daring, but then he knows, as did the angel Gabriel who brought the news of his birth to Mary, that “there is nothing that God cannot do” (Luke 1:37).
What does this passage reveal about the relationship between God the Father, Jesus and his disciples? Why do you think unity is so important to Jesus? What has been your experience of unity in your church and with other Christians? What things hinder unity with others in your church community? When are you most aware of the presence of Jesus within your church? Does your relationship with God give you the freedom to make bold prayer requests like Jesus? If not, consider why this might be.
Sit down and spend a while in silence. Let God speak to you and lead you to respond to him in prayer. He may encourage you to be daring and ask something that you’ve not had the courage to ask before because humanly speaking it seems impossible. He may direct you to pray about a relationship that needs reconciliation or for someone to believe in Jesus and know that God loves them.
Consider the words “the love you have for me may be in them” from Jesus’s prayer (verse 26). Think about how much God the Father loves Jesus. Now consider what it means to have God’s unconditional love in you. How does this affect your relationship with God? Does it overflow into your relationships with others?
Lectio divina is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word. These outlines for the Sunday Gospel readings are published by the Bible Society. Download at biblesociety.org.uk/lectio. © 2008 United Bible Societies. Bible text Good News Translation, second edition