The Holy Spirit connects the dots for us in scripture: when we ask, seek, knock, familiar verses may suddenly emerge in new light. When we ask: a willingness, or better yet, an eagerness on our part for ‘more please’ entreats the Teacher to open up a kaleidoscope of new insight. When we seek: He loves to surprise us. When we knock: As with the Son, God the Father delights to share with those whom He has given to His Son, the things that belong to Him.
One of the richest truths Jesus longs to convey is the mystery of our oneness in Him, in the Father, and in each other. Merely shadowed in the Old Testament, Immanuel, God with us, became reality in the new. Following the Passover meal on the night He was taken, Jesus opened up His heart to His disciples. He spoke of things that would shortly come to pass and began to prepare them for His departure from this world. Later on he would dispense His “Great Commission” to go and make disciples in all the world. But tonight Jesus “desired with great desire” a personal and intimate communion with His chosen band of followers.
In passing the baton, our Lord desired most of all to leave His disciples a legacy of love: to reveal how much the Father loved the Son, and how that love united the Father, the Son, and those whom the Father had given Him. But as an added blessing (as is God’s usual policy), it was to be not only for their sakes alone, but also for those who would believe on Him through their word. In that hour the disciples could not possibly have grasped how much we, in ours, would bank on that promise.
In the gospel of John following His going-away discourse to the disciples, Jesus leads directly into His homecoming prayer to the Father. Embedded in this prayer is the gem of oneness but it is one that held a startling, almost unbelievable concept for Jesus’ followers. For centuries the Jews had been schooled in God’s inapproachable holiness and inaccessibility to sinful man; it would take the coming of the Holy Spirit to bring to their remembrance and comprehension Jesus’ words and actions that night, as well as shed light upon many of His teachings during His ministry on earth.
In the disciples’ world culture and tradition placed great emphasis on clout and authority. The lesser served the greater. Especially among the Gentiles who ruled over them was this true. But even their own Jewish culture had diminished the original intent of God’s methodology. When Jesus washed His disciples feet, those who had often striven with one another, vying for position and preeminence, had their theology turned upside down. This is why Peter drew back from having his Lord perform the menial task of the lowest of the low: the foot-washing servant. “Serve one another, love one another, esteem one another better than oneself.” What a foreign policy.
The oneness model and ‘new commandment’ to love one another go hand in hand. In His “High Priestly Prayer” Jesus’ petition to the Father makes clear and perfects this lovely and vital truth: “…that they all may be one; as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” John 17:21 (KJV)
In verse 23 Jesus deems that last part worth repeating: “…I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one: and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
Can we grasp the significance of the joining of these several truths? Dot to dot to dot? The lion’s share of our evangelizing, our “Great Commission” hinges on our fervent love one for another. Like a city on a hill, like a beacon to the world, it shines. No matter the length and breadth of credentials scholarly, this is pure Bible theology, straight ‘from His lips to our ears.’ Though there’s not space enough to list them all, in the gospel and epistles of John alone scriptures abound that echo this incredible vision of loveliness.
Only what the world sees in us is what the world will know it may have access to in Christ. In other words, brotherly love is our most effective testimony. The love of Jesus, the love of the Father, is measured to the world in lowly us.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35. (KJV)