Before he returned to the glory of heaven, it was Jesus’ prayer that we should receive God’s power. He wanted to ensure that his disciples were equipped for the task that lay ahead. His desire and hope is still the same today.
When our children were still at home we had many camping trips together and I acquired a reputation for having things with me, ‘just in case’. I was always packing more than was immediately required … I still do .. ‘just in case’. You never know when you might need them. It’s a sound enough principle, but often results in over packed cars, trailers and rucksacks and I end up burdened with more goods than I need. It’s a scriptural truth that whenever God sets a task he always ensures that those involved are appropriately equipped to carry it out. Our heavenly Father knows precisely what we need and in this prayer of Jesus we see those needs specifically identified. Jesus prays for unity, for joy, for victory and for sanctification.
Jesus prays for Unity that his disciples would be one. Where there is division, exclusiveness or competition, then unity is bruised and broken. Jesus prayed that we would be one as he and his father are one. In total agreement and understanding. Of one mind and purpose. Focussed. There is perhaps no other prayer of Jesus that has been so hindered by individual Christians or churches than this one with ‘My will be done’ and not ‘Thy will be done.’ To be in unity is to understand the will of Father God by abiding, resting and remaining in Him. Spending time with Him as Jesus did.
Jesus prays for Joy. Jesus desires our lives to be full of joy. There is a difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is like a thermometer in that it registers the conditions in which we are living, whereas joy is like a thermostat; it sets the conditions in which we are living. ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength.’[i] It is God’s plan that our lives be full and blessed and attractive to others, no matter what our circumstances, that others may also encounter the joy of knowing Jesus.
Jesus prays for victory. Note that Jesus did not ask his father to remove his disciples from the world. How will others see the saving power of God if that took place? No. What he asks for is victory over the problems and dangers they will face from the ‘evil one’. There is direct opposition to God from evil. No good denying it or ignoring it for both responses do the evil ones work for him. There is an ‘evil one’ and we need to be aware of his lies, deception and disruption, but in Jesus we need not fear him. John, in his letter reminds us, and Jesus himself speaks of the power that is in His name. Power to overcome all evil and all that would seek to thwart Gods will.
Jesus prays for sanctification. That we might be ‘set apart’, ‘made different’, ‘made Holy’ by the truth of God’s word in order that we can become involved in changing the world. To do that we need the power of the Holy Spirit who brings unity, joy and victory over every situation and circumstance that would seek to restrict us, steal our joy or prevent the blessing that God has assigned through His church. In his love, Father God does not impose anything upon us, so, we need to ask for the Holy Spirit. It’s a decision to be made, but why would anyone want to be without that blessing in their lives? As we approach the celebration of Pentecost I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to empower you, fill you and bless you in order that you can be fully equipped as Jesus intended you to be.
With the Lord’s blessing
[i] Nehemiah 8:10
Rev Dave Clark
Vicar of the Benefice of Upper Wensleydale