6. The Instrument of the Ultimate Purpose
John 17 is a chapter of great range. Back to the Past Eternity, "And now, Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own Self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was" (verse 5). On Through All Time, "I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and lovedst them, even as Thou lovedst Me" (verse 23). Unto Eternity to Be, "Father, I desire that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world" (verse 24). Heaven, earth, hell, believers, unbelievers, and the evil one, are all touched.
With all these in full view the Great High Priest stands by the altar of the Cross and prays. He is praying a prayer of universal and timeless dimensions. And yet He focuses it all upon a point in time which He calls "the hour." To what does that hour relate? To the glorifying of the Son, Who is praying. What is one of the prominent factors in that glorifying? That the world might know that He had been sent by the Father, and that He should be believed on in the world.
By what means will that be brought about, furnishing the ultimate proof that He came, and that He accomplished His work successfully? By the triumphant manifestation of His own unique, deathless and indestructible Life, by which the Church, which is His Body, is constituted a living organism. The heart of this far-reaching and many-sided chapter would seem to be the constituting of an effectual testimony concerning the Lord Jesus to the nations in and through the Church in virtue of His Cross.
This testimony is seen to have as a primary and basic truth the organic oneness of all members of Christ. The nature and pattern of this oneness is revealed in verse 21. It is oneness in God and in Christ. It is not merely the presenting of a united front to the world, but the impact of a mighty Presence. Christ dwelt in the Father, He had His life in the Father, in the days of His flesh. He said, "I live because of the Father" (John 6:57). It was the effect of this that demonstrated the oneness.
The oneness is a spiritual power, not an organized force. A world governed by "the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience" will not bow to a common testimony to objective truths, however many may represent them. The conviction that Christ has come rests upon the abiding power of His imparted Life, which is the common possession of all who are truly His by new birth. To know God, and Jesus Christ Whom He did send, is a matter of Life - "This is Life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3). It is not life resultant from knowledge, but knowledge resultant from Life. When the Lord Jesus prays that the world may know and believe, He makes that consequent upon the living manifestation of the believer's union wit, and abiding in, the Father and Himself, which relationship would issue in a common witness to the living reality of Christ.
This then is a full consecration chapter, based upon His own model "For their sakes I sanctify (consecrate) Myself" (John 17:19). There may be different aspects of the oneness in the chapter. Verse 21 relates to basic oneness in Christ: "That they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us: that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me." Verse 11 may that manifest oneness as on the Day of Pentecost: "And I am no more in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as we are." Verse 23 is a process and a consummation - ultimate oneness. "I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and lovedst them, even as Thou lovedst Me."
(continued with # 7)