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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Jesus Prays for Us

Jesus Prays for Us

It was nighttime in the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus was trembling as He cried out to God in prayer.  He knew that within an hour or two He would be arrested and carried off to be humiliated and crucified. His disciples were there with Him but they kept falling asleep.  Jesus had wakened them and begged them to stay awake and pray with Him. But they had dozed off again leaving Jesus to pray alone in the darkness. Even Jesus’ body was reacting to the heaviness of His sorrow. Scripture describes it like this:  “And being in agony, He (Jesus) prayed more earnestly.  Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.”  (Luke 22:44)

Jesus did pray for Himself on that terrible night.  But most of His prayers were for his disciples and for us!  Can you imagine, during this darkest of hours, Jesus was worrying about us?  Jesus knew that He would be arrested that night!  He knew that the time of His death had arrived.  And yet this is the time that Jesus is fervently praying for you and me!

What was it that caused Jesus to intercede for you and me instead of thinking of Himself as His death was approaching?  What was this special prayer that He prayed for us with such emotion? Let’s read Scripture and see.  Here is part of the prayer that Jesus prayed for us on that terrible night in the Garden of Gethsemane.   “I do not pray for these alone, (the disciples) but also for those who will believe in Me through their word (that’s us):  I pray that they all may be one, as You, Father are in Me and I in You.  That they (future believers) also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one.  I in them and You in Me;  that they may be made perfect in unity, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.  …that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”  (John 17:20-23, 26b)

So now you have it!  Jesus has diligently prayed that His followers in the future will all be united and dedicated to one another.  That we all may be one even like He and the Father and the Spirit are one!  That is so important to Him, so close to His heart!  He says that He give us the glory that His Father gave Him so that we may be one. Does that mean that He gives us the power and ability to love our brothers and sisters in Christ?  If He gives us His glory so that we may be united –do we use it to be one in Him?

The perfect unity that Jesus prayed would be ours is a unity that we don’t always experience.  Just when we feel that our church is united, a disagreement can pop up with one side warring against the other.   Here on earth we are so used to gossip and disagreements even among our fellow Christians. We aren’t surprised when churches split, or even when Christian families split.  Was Jesus’ prayer in vain?   

 I can never remember a time when our country (the U.S.A.) has been so divided and so stalemated.  It seems we don’t have unity on anything. Anger and rumors –in the name of Jesus?- are being spread constantly.  And it seems that some of the Christians are the very ones who are spreading the ill will that keeps the two sides from reaching any compromises or agreements.  Many have left the church because of this!  Is this what Jesus wants?

There is a better way.  Jesus would not have prayed for His followers to be one if that unity was impossible.  We read about the early Christians and we marvel at how God was with them in such power.  Miracles and healings happened every day among those early Christians and thousands came to Christ through their prayers and loving witness and their power evangelism. (Acts 2-5)  What an exciting time to be a Christian! We wonder why our churches don’t see miracles and healings like theirs did! 

But when we read about these early Christians and their miracles and healings we also read that these same early Christians loved one another and had complete unity. (Acts 4-5)  They took care of one another, fed the widows and orphans in their group and constantly prayed together.  Was God with these first Christians in such power because they had so much love for one another and such perfect unity?  Did the miracles and healings come because there was an atmosphere of love and unity and prayer in their midst?  Do we miss out on God’s power and on miracles and healings because we don’t always love one another and maintain unity? 

We are missing out on so much when we forget to live together in peace and love.  God has prepared a great banquet – a feast of love for all of us; but we need to be together as one body to receive and enjoy it.   Psalm 133:1 reads:  “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity..”  Are we missing out on that “good and pleasant” place- that paradise- because we haven’t tried hard enough to love and stay in unity?   

The early Christians were always together in prayer.  And Jesus has said that His Fathers’ House was to be a “House of Prayer”.  Their prayers seemed to help hold them together. If we pray for our enemies we can learn to love them. (Matt.5:44) 1Timothy 2:1-3 reads: 

“I exhort that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men.  For kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.”

We are Christ’s body and we are supposed to be one in Him. (1 Cor.12:27)  Of course when real heresy arises in the church we can not go along with that in order to keep the peace.  But so many times we separate with other Christians over minor issues.

 Scripture says that “Love covers a multitude of sin.”     Jesus’ love covers our sin and He calls us to have that same love when our Christian sister or brother sins against us.  Can we do that- be wronged and not strike back?  Can we pray with Jesus for unity in our Christian churches?  Can we let peace start with us and be the “peacemakers” (Matt.5:9) that God calls us to be?    




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