Sermon Discussion QUestions
1. How does the unity of the church make visible the invisible unity of God the Father and Jesus the Son? Can people see the love of the Father and the Son for each other based on looking at your relationships within the church?
2. How much does God love you as an individual Christian? Are you able to grasp that God loves you with the same love that He loves Jesus?
3. Have you seen how unity grows the church and how disunity hinders the growth of the church? How are you actively working to promote unity in our church?
Scripture: John 17: 20-23
I. Our Christian unity reveals God to the world.
A. Jesus’ prayer for us is found at the beginning of vs. 21: that they may all be one. John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love then is the defining characteristic of the church. So, love is an important part of the unity that Jesus prayed for. But love is not the only thing Jesus prayed for with regard to the unity of the church. The unity of the church is also unity in the truth.
B. We are united in believing the truth the apostles taught (vs. 20). But we cannot and will not unite on every issue. So when we don’t agree with each other on a non-essential matter, we need to be humble. When we love those we disagree with, that is unity that is supernaturally produced. We also see the supernatural nature of our unity in vs. 21-22. In vs. 21 we see that the unity we Christians are to have is to be just like the unity between God the Father and Jesus the Son. We are to be one, Jesus says, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you. Our unity as Christians then reveals the unity of God to the world.
II. Our Christian unity reveals God’s love to us.
A. Jesus says something breathtaking about our Christian unity in verse 23. He says, “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one.” He goes on to say to God the Father in this verse: “you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” What does Jesus mean in His prayer? He means that you as a Christian have been caught up in the same love that God the Father has for Jesus. God loves you with the very same love that He has for Jesus.
B. Matthew 25:40: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Your brothers and sisters in this church are so united to Jesus and to God, that when you hurt your fellow Christian, you are hurting Jesus. But the good news is this: when you do or say something good to your fellow Christians in this church, it is like you are doing or saying something good to Jesus. What an opportunity we have to experience God’s love for us as we do good for and seek the unity of our church.
III. Our Christian unity grows the church.
A. Two times in this passage Jesus speaks about how the church grows in size as a result of our unity as Christians. We read in verse 21 Christ’s prayer that we may all be one. For what purpose? At the end of the verse we read “so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” The unity of the church is to be so compelling to the world, so inexplicable to the world without a supernatural explanation, that our witness as to who Jesus is only becomes explainable if Jesus truly is both one with God and one with His church. When the world sees our love and unity, some of the people in the world will believe the Gospel message that we show and tell. Jesus prays in vs. 23 that we in the church may become perfectly one “so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them as you loved me.” Our unity has an impact on the unbelieving world so our mission to make more disciples of Jesus relies in large part on our unity in the faith.
We need to enjoy and protect the unity of the church.
The Gospel of John
Commentaries on John by D. A. Carson and Richard Phillips