Friday, January 05, 2024

The Vision (1.5.24): That they all may be one


Image: Some CRBC youth sing at a retirement home outreach in December, 2023.

In our first Midweek Meeting of this New Year (January 3, 2024), I offered a meditation on Christ’s so-called High Priestly Prayer as recorded in John 17.

It was fitting to begin the year with reflection on this prayer from our Lord at the initial prayer meeting of the New Year. In his first advent ministry Christ showed himself to be a man of prayer, and even now he “ever liveth to make intercession” for us (Hebrews 7:25).

The apostle John did not record Christ’s prayer of agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, as did the other Evangelists, but he alone did record this prayer in John 17 in which Christ offered petitions before the Father as our Great High Priest (cf. Hebrews 4:14-16).

This prayer has traditionally been understood to consist of three main petitions:

First, Christ prayed for himself (17:1-5). As true God, the Son has shared in fellowship with the Father and the Spirit from all eternity. As true man without sin he enjoyed perfect harmony with the Father and rightly was in constant communion with him. With the cross and resurrection in view in which his glory would be fully revealed, Christ acknowledged, “the hour is come” (17:1; cf. John 2:4; 7:6), and prayed, “glorify thy son” (17:1; cf. 17:5).

Second, Christ prayed for the original disciples or apostles (17:6-19). What a task was about to be set before them! They would be given the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Christ prayed for their holiness, “Sanctify them, through thy truth; thy word is truth” (17:17).

Third, he prayed for those who would come to the faith through the witness of the apostles (17:20-26), beginning, “Neither pray I for them [the apostles] alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (17:20). These men would indeed preach the gospel, and they would write the NT Scriptures, which continue to be preached to this day. Christ was praying for us, those who would come to faith by hearing Christ preached in the Scriptures. The focus of his petition was for their unity: “That they all may be one….” (17:21 ff.).

            As we enter this New Year may the Lord grant unity to his church. Let the unity we have enjoyed in this local church continue, as we love the brethren and bear one another’s burdens in the name of Christ. Let that unity be demonstrated through our fellowship with likeminded Reformed Baptist churches throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, this nation, and the world. Let it also be demonstrated through our unity with all other churches where Christ is at the center, the Bible is believed and preached, and the core tenants of orthodox Christian faith and practice are upheld.

            Let us indeed “all be one.”

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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