Becoming One in Ministry


When Jesus prayed, what was central on His mind?


We actually have record of one of Jesus’ most important prayers and what He prayed about.


Let’s look at what was on Jesus’ mind in His important prayer in John 17:1-11.

John 17 How we Got Jesus’ Prayer

Part of the Lord’s “high priestly prayer” is found in John 17:1-11. How did we get that prayer? Did someone take word-for-word notes in a shorthand? Did God inspire a later writer word-for-word? Did John just summarize it in his own words? We don’t know. Forensic linguists theorize about a set of notes called Q, from the German word Quelle (source), and that later writers used Q to write individual accounts. Witnesses using reference notes does not diminish their testimony. We don’t know if the words are exact or more general. However, the prayer’s emphasis is unmistakably Jesus, as he prayed for glory, eternal life and unity for his followers.

John 17:1 Glory

In John 17:1, Jesus prayed “Glorify Your Son.” What did he mean? Glorify is from the Greek root δόξα (doxa) from which we get the word doxology. It means to give power, honor, praise and magnificent greatness. In this context it includes the exalted position that Jesus had from the beginning, “the glory which I had with You before the world was.” It includes the glory of the cross. He said, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” It also incorporates the glory that is given to him by those who follow him, “I am glorified in them.”

John 17:2-3 Knowing God

In John 17:2-3 Jesus prayed about his authority to “give eternal life to as many as” the Father had given Him. He also defined what He meant by eternal life, “this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” This means to know the one, true God, in contrast with the polytheism of the Gentiles. How? This recognition or knowledge of God includes knowing Him in Jesus and involves an intimate relationship akin to marriage. As we receive the words which Jesus has given us, the words which God gave him, then we come to know and believe God.

John 17:4-5 Glory or Defeat

In John 17:4-5 Jesus prayed to the Father in heaven, I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” The Greek is literally “having completed the work.” How is an ignominious death on a cross glory? In the world it is seen as defeat. It is precisely the opposite in God’s eyes. In an ethically bankrupt world, wealth, power and popularity are often gained through moral defeat, lying, cheating, stealing. The self-sacrificing who take up their cross daily are the real winners. All honor and praise and dignity forever goes to the cross and those who live out its purpose.

John 17:5-6 Before the World

In John 17:5 Jesus prayed, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” Along with a multitude of scriptural witnesses, this highlights Jesus’ divine glory in the eternity before the world existed. Jesus had emptied Himself of divinity (Philippians 2:5-8) taking on the form of a servant. In verse 6 Jesus prayed about His disciples, They were Yours.” The disciples were faithful followers of God as He revealed Himself in the Old Testament. Now, as the Father revealed His nature more fully in Jesus, He gave them to Jesus, even as they continued to loyally keep God’s word.

John 17:8 Jesus gave Rhema & Logos

In John 17:8, Jesus prayed, “I have given to them the words which You have given Me.” The Greek root of “words” is (ῥῆμα) rhema. Although rhema can refer to rhetoric and logos to logic, they overlap in meaning and usage. Popular myths claim rhema means a fresh word from God while (λόγος) logos is an antiquated word. This ignorance is debunked later in this same chapter as Jesus prayed “I have given them Your word [logos]” (vs. 14) and “Your word [logos] is truth” (vs. 17). The Bible uses logos and rhema interchangeably. Both translate a single Hebrew word (דָּבָר) dabar. Many so-called “rhema-words” contradict the rhema and logos in the Bible.

John 17:9 Calvinism

In John 17:9 Jesus said, “I do not pray for the world.” Calvinism teaches that God predestined some to be either saved or lost before birth. Predestination in Calvinism removes any free will. Calvinists quote this verse as proof that God does not love, did not die for, nor prays for the world, but only for those given to Him. This contradicts verse 21, that the world may believe that You sent Me” and verse 23, “that the world may know that You have sent Me.” As “Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14), it was Jesus normal practice to pray for the world, just not in this instance.

John 17:9-11 Divine Community

In John 17:9-10 Jesus prayed, “for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine.” Ellicott’s Commentary calls this “absolute community.” The Cambridge Bible describes this as explaining “the perfect union between the Father and the Son.” Paying them and us the greatest compliment, Jesus says, I am glorified in them.” In verse 11 Jesus prayed, Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one.Was this request a total failure, or are Christians really united in God’s name, if not in worldly circumstances? Are we already one in essentials? Could unity in God’s name be called mature Christianity?


When Jesus prayed, He prayed mostly about unity and that should inspire us to think about how we can work for greater unity and how it is found not in our worldly institutions but in the Father and the Son. When we promote our denominations, we are not promoting a unifying message. When we promote the Father and the Son, then we are one in ministry.

Becoming One in Spirit


When we think of church unity, we think of political unity, yet in the greatest sense is the Church already unified?


Has God already unified His Church in a way that those who focus on church politics miss?


Let’s look at John 14:15-21 and how the Holy Spirit unifies Christians.

John 14:15 Jesus’ Commandments

Some Christians presume that the word “commandments” always means the Ten Commandments. That’s a false assumption. Obedience to Jesus’ commands proves that we love Him. He said, “If you love me…” In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” In this context Jesus commanded, to “believe also in Me” (verse 1). The natural reading (in context) is His commandments, not the Ten Commandments. Jesus also reminds us of several of over 600 Old Testament commandments that we love God and neighbor. The commands of Christ do not dismiss Old Testament commandments, but rather fulfill their spirit through faith in God the Father and God the Son.

John 14:16 East-West Divide

An east-west division is visible in John 14:16. I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper...” Who does the Holy Spirit proceed from, the Father or the Father and the Son? The Nicene Creed in the East leaves out the words “and the Son” (filioque in Latin). This verse seems to say that the Father sends the Spirit on behalf of the Son. Both East and West may agree on that. Because the addition was never authorized at a truly ecumenical council of Eastern and Western churches, it has caused unnecessary division. Jesus is a Comforter (1 John 2:1). The Holy Spirit is another Comforter.

John 14:17 Spirit of Truth

The Holy Spirit is called the “paraclete,” variously translated as Comforter, Helper and Advocate. More closely aligned with being “the Spirit of Truth” in John 14:17 is the translation Advocate. Whenever we meet someone who does not have what we deem to be the truth, we do not need to coerce or persecute them as some Christians have been tempted to do. It ought not surprise us that “the world cannot receive” the Spirit of truth. Our best arguments will all fail, because the world cannot receive the truth. We should simply trust the Holy Spirit to do His job, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

John 14:18 I Will Come to You

In John 14:18 Jesus promised his disciples, “I will not leave you orphans.” The Greek word is orphans. The word comfortless in some translations misses the context of the conversation beginning with “Little children...” (John 13:33). Here is another coming of Jesus Christ, in the Spirit. He said, “I will come to you.” This refers perhaps to two things, the time Christ would be with them after the resurrection and his presence with them through the Holy Spirit. MacLaren's Expositions calls this presence through the Holy Spirit the absent-present Christ. As Jesus promised in Matthew 28:20 I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

John 14:19 You Will See Me

In John 14:19 Jesus promised his disciples that after His death, the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me.” This has two possibilities. They would see Jesus as they did between Resurrection Sunday and His Ascension. The second possibility is that this includes seeing Jesus through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus also spoke of their future eternity, “Because I live, you will live also.” This also refers to the higher life of Christ which is independent of death. Because He lives, we will be partakers of life forever more. This indicates that our eternal life is dependent directly on Jesus giving it to us.

John 14:20 In that Day

In John 14:20 Jesus said, “In that day,” either referring to the day when “another Helper” “the Spirit of Truth” (verses 16-17) would come, that is, the Day of Pentecost beginning the Christian era or perhaps the day of His resurrection, celebrated every Sunday. His disciples will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” This union of mutual indwelling is lived out in our mystical personal relationship with God the Father and God the Son through the Holy Spirit. Is this oneness with God what the resurrection life is all about? Is this the realization of a life at peace with God?

John 14:21 Love and Manifestation

In John 14:21 Jesus rephrases verse 15, He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” This involves the mutual indwelling of Father, Son and Holy Spirit with us. Those who dwell in Christ are obeying His commands, perhaps summarized in words like faith and love. We accept His words and act on them. The result is being loved by My Father.” This relationship that exists between us and God rests on faith. Jesus then promises that He will love us and manifest Himself to us. This revelation is a Coming different from His Second Coming. It is the manifestation of Christ in the Spirit.

Why Church Division?

The Christian Church is united on the essentials. We probably agree on 95% of our faith. We are divided over a lot of non-essentials. Rather than continue the division, it is good to understand various sides of a doctrine without prejudice. To understand all sides of an argument over a non-essential issue can eliminate bigotry. It does not mean that we compromise on sin or heresy, but it does mean we recognize that the Holy Spirit is not exclusive. The more we learn to respect other opinions instead of being dogmatic that only our way is right, the more we recognize God’s grace in the world, and find differences less important.


Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and many different Protestant churches all claim to be the one true church. But, none of us has the authority to tell the Head of the Church where He may dwell. Jesus has come to His Church. It is wherever He dwells through the Holy Spirit and wherever His love lives in people.

Becoming One with Christ


Have you ever felt like something is missing? What are we looking for? Jesus offers us an answer.


Let’s see how that Christians belong somewhere very special and how we get there.


Let’s examine John 14:1-14 to see our permanent home and the way there.

John 14:1-2 The Meaning of Mansions

In John 14 Jesus said, In My Father’s house are many mansions”. Jacob dedicated Beth El as God’s house, the gate of heaven (Genesis 28:15-22). The tabernacle and the temple in Jerusalem were called the house of God. The people of God are also called God’s house (1 Corinthians 3:8-10). True believers are also promised a place of eternal abode with God. The Greek word μοναὶ (monai) translated as mansions or abodes means literally “an abiding dwelling-place (i.e. not transitory).” Our homes on earth are only temporary abodes, but our place in eternity is permanent. The emphasis then is that there is plenty of room in heaven for all.

John 14:3-6 The Way

In John 14:3 Jesus said, “I will come again.” Then he told them in verses 4-5, “where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas speaking for the others said, “Lord, we do not know.” How often do we not know that we know something? A little more instruction clarified what they already knew. Jesus then say, “I am the way.” The way a person and not a road. It has a destination, “to the Father,” also a person. So Jesus is the way to the Father. He went to prepare a place for us and will come again to take us to the place He has prepared.

John 14:6 The Truth

People believe that a particular distinct doctrine is the truth, which in reality may be mere human understanding. They claim that a different understanding is a lie and not the truth. Yet, all Christians agree on the truth, at least the most important element of the truth, Jesus. After all, Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life” in John 14:6. Whatever disagreements Christians may have — forms of baptism, qualifications for ordination, formal versus informal formats, wine or grape juice for communion, Psalms, hymns or spiritual songs, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant authority, tongues, church polity — we agree that what Jesus taught is still the truth.

John 14:6 The Life

Jesus made the bold claim, “I am the way, the truth and the life” in John 14:6. Is this a claim to divinity, that Jesus is within himself the possessor of eternal life? Is it also a claim that He can give it to whomever He wishes? In the beginning it was God who gave man life (Genesis 2:7). Whoever believes in Jesus should have everlasting life (John 3:16). Jesus is the prince of life (Acts 3:15). The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23). God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son (1 John 5:11).

John 14:7-11 Show us the Father

In John 14:8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Verse 6 reveals Jesus as the way to our Father. Could the devil be deceiving our society to create such hatred of manliness and fatherhood so that we no longer wish to come to our heavenly Father? Jesus highly honored womanhood, but he chose men to be the twelve disciples. Why? He could have chosen women. Are manly leadership and male role-models despised in today’s world? Do we feminize men? Do we caricature manliness like a freak show? More than ever, our world needs fathers and the Father we need most is God.

John 14:12-14 Greater Works

In John 14:12 Jesus said, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do”. Andrew evangelized Constantinople, Ukraine, Romania and Russia. Peter and Paul evangelized Antioch and more. James the Greater evangelized Spain. John preached at Ephesus. Philip evangelized Greece and Syria. Bartholomew (Nathaniel) evangelized India, Ethiopia, Mesopotamia and Armenia. Matthew evangelized Caucasia, Macedonia, Persia and Parthia. Thomas evangelized Parthia and India. James the Less evangelized Lower Egypt. Judas Thaddeus evangelized Judea, Samaria, Syria, Mesopotamia and Libya. Simon the Zealot pastored Jerusalem and traveled to Africa and Europe. “Greater works” was one of Jesus’ greatest promises.


Many people speak of our home being heaven, but it’s more than that. Our home is with the Father. We belong with Him, and the way there is to be one with Jesus.

Awakening to Baptism


How do we become part of Christ’s flock and what does He do with His sheep?


Let’s realize that Jesus brings His sheep together.


Let’s look at John 10:1-10 and see how baptism makes us part of the faith community.

John 10:1 The Sheepfold

We can learn a lot about Christianity from a “sheepfold.” Sheep are very social, flock together and readily follow a lead sheep. Healthy lambs feed frequently. A lamb that bleats all the time is probably hungry. Lambs remain close to their mothers but curiosity can get them into trouble. Sheep are generally docile, but rams can be aggressive during breeding season, headbutting to dominate. Ewes may become aggressive to protect their young. Sheep have excellent memories and trust a shepherd who handles them gently. Shepherds can train sheep by voice command. Like shepherds, churches use various group assemblies to tend God’s sheep. Sheep instinctively know that they are better off together.

John 10:4 They Know His Voice

Is the voice of Jesus harsh and authoritarian, or soft and effeminate? The Bible gives us a picture of Jesus’ voice: the sheep hear it. People listen to all kinds of voices. Yet the sheep listen to His. All other voices are potential robbers. Just as in a real flock of sheep, where each can be taught its name, so too does the voice Jesus call each by name. It is a personal relationship. Jesus’ sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” They will never follow another. In fact, they go the other way from the un-recognized voice of a stranger. We can learn to recognize the voice of Jesus.

John 10:5 Following a Stranger

Jesus said that His sheep “will by no means follow a stranger.” The idea of “dumb sheep” is a myth. Sheep are very intelligent animals. They remember up to fifty other sheep and ten humans. They find their way out of mazes quickly and are smarter than humans in being able to find the plants they need for herbal cures. In England they taught themselves to roll across cattle grids to feed on neighboring pastures. After meeting a group of people, sheep remember who brought the food. They know by instinct that togetherness is the best defense against a predator. They flock together and gladly follow a shepherd that they trust.

John 10:6 Parable of the Sheep Gate

When “Jesus used this illustration” or parable of being the gate for the sheep he was not speaking literally but figuratively. Parables use hyperbolic language not literal. Let’s not pride ourselves on always taking the Bible literally, when an overly literal interpretation often misses what God intended. Let’s not be thieves and robbers entering a church to steal the peace, kill the joy and destroy the unity. The more we listen to Jesus, the more we find spiritual pasture that feeds our souls. Our lives become more fulfilled now as we experience paradise on earth in a manner not available to those who never come to church, to the sheep fold.

John 10:7 When a Gate is a Gate

Why did Jesus say, I am the door of the sheep?” Picture a shepherd sitting or sleeping at the entrance to a sheep pen. There is no wooden gate. He is the gate. Even a pastor or shepherd who does not enter by the legitimate gate is a thief and a robber. The only legitimate way to enter the true Church is via Jesus. He is the gate. We do not enter the sheepfold via Moses, Paul, the Ecumenical Patriarch, Pope, Luther, Calvin or Wesley. The best servants of God are not the gate. Only Jesus is the gate. So, when is a gate a gate? When that gate is Jesus.

John 10:8 Thieves and Robbers

Jesus said, All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers.” Is a particular church the door? Claims of who is one true church are everywhere, but they can’t all be right. Are all who claim to be the door into the sheepfold, except Jesus himself, thieves and robbers? When humans compete for sheep, where do we hear Jesus’ voice? Is it the loud and wealthy televangelist? Is it soft words of someone letting their light shine in good works? Is it the encouraging words of an elderly Christian? Are sermons preaching the words of denominational division or of the Great Shepherd who has come that we may have life?

John 10:9 Who is the Gate

Jesus said, “I am the door of the sheep.” He is the gateway or gatekeeper for the sheepfold. Listen to the voice of the gatekeeper. He will lead us out to safety. Ignore his voice and we may romp in the green grass at the wrong time, headed into danger. If we enter into safety through the gatekeeper, then we know that he will be watching. It is important for us to be following the right voice, the voice of the gatekeeper, Jesus. Inside the gate is freedom from harm, because the gatekeeper guards us. Outside the gate is freedom to run and frolic with protection, because the gatekeeper leads us.

John 10:10 Life to the Full

Jesus said, I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” This is contrasted with the thief who enters the church “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” We have slowly drifted away from Jesus Christ and substituted material abundance for the abundant life in Christ. Heretical Gospels that emphasize self-indulgence are popular. The delusion of materialism has brought spiritual and family destruction. Divorce and crime are direct results of our hedonistic rush for power and wealth. The thief has come and stolen and killed and destroyed us. Will we return to the one who can give us life to the full?


Let us learn to recognize the voice of the Great Shepherd. He sits at the door as gatekeeper to the sheepfold. As we come in and go out through him we find spiritual pasture and life to the full.