(I got off to a very slow start yesterday & didn't get to post -- so I'm touching on two chapters today.)
"I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me." (John 17:21)
Have you ever prayed for something, a good thing that you sincerely and earnestly wanted, and it seems like the exact OPPOSITE happened? I wonder if Jesus felt that sting in these chapters. John 17 is Jesus' heartfelt prayer for the unity of His followers... and then John 18 is the account of one betrayal after another.
When I think about someone betraying Jesus, I automatically think of Judas -- and that is true, but there are actually a few different betrayals in that chapter. Judas betrayed Jesus out of evil intent. Peter betrayed Him by denying Him. Most of the other Apostles betrayed Him by running away. The crowds who had cheered for Him not long before betrayed Him by joining in and condemning Him.
Jesus' prayer wasn't answered... yet, He didn't get mad and walk away from His mission. He didn't get bitter and change His mind about wanting His followers to live in unity. He didn't get angry and demand explanations. I'm not nearly so gracious when my prayers aren't answered. I'm not nearly so forgiving when someone I trusted betrays me in a painful way.
This week we've been focusing on setting the captives free -- praying for people in our lives who are being held captive to addictions, sickness, bad attitudes, etc. It's easy to pray for folks like that -- but it's also difficult to keep on praying for them when it seems like our prayers are not being answered... when it seems like the exact opposite is happening. How quickly we give up!! Jesus prayed for unity 2000 years ago... and even though His prayer still hasn't been answered, it has never stopped being the cry of His heart. I'm glad He didn't give up on me... and if I'm going to follow in His footsteps, I can't give up on others either.