There is an old fable about a man who, at the hour of his death, gathered his sons around him. He gave them a bunch of sticks, tied into a bundle, and asked the oldest son to try and break them. The son struggled to break the sticks in half, but failed. One by one his brothers failed as well. Then the father untied the bundle and handed them each one stick, asking them to break it. Easily they snapped the limbs in half. The moral of this lesson? In unity is strength.
In today’s prayer, Jesus prayed for the unity of believers. It is hard to imagine, but just hours before Jesus’ betrayal, trial, and crucifixion He was thinking about...you. In verse 20 of our text, He transitions from praying for His disciples to praying for all believers. His one request is that believers everywhere may be one.
When believers from all different races and ethnicities, ages and backgrounds are united, the world will begin to believe that Jesus is indeed the Christ (vv. 21, 23). Jesus goes on to pray for believers to not only be tolerant with one another but also to be connected and attached to one another, just as the Father is to the Son (v. 22). Jesus imagines that the unity among believers is as strong as the unity that is within the Trinity.
Jesus’ prayer crescendos with His desire that we will one day be with Him. Knowing what He was about to endure, His final thoughts were about us being unified with other believers and one day being united with Him (v. 24). Christ’s prayer for us was that we would be completely committed to being united with Jesus and one another on both sides of eternity.
>> This week, have a conversation with a Christian who is different from you. Maybe you differ in ethnicity, political persuasion, or socio-economic class. Learn something new about this brother or sister in Christ, and pray together for unity.
Father, we grieve that sometimes we elevate the differences between believers above our shared relationship to you. Grant us a servant’s heart to strengthen ties with others—particularly those who are different from us.