Jesus and Relationships
How many times do we avoid building relationships because someone is different than us? We think we can’t possibly have a relationship because we think differently, we come from totally different backgrounds, we will never agree on certain issues.
“It drives me crazy when he (or she) ….”
“I’m not comfortable around her . She doesn’t think like I do, doesn’t talk or believe like me.”
“He believes what?”
How many times do we exclude the possibility of relationships with those who, in one way or another, are different than us?
Growth in Relationship
At times, thoughts like these still surface in my mind after years of walking with Jesus, who accepted people with unconditional love. Oh, He spoke truth about the religious leaders, calling them “white-washed tombs;” beautiful outside and rotting inside. He drove the thieving sellers from the Temple. These hypocrites charged way inflated prices for animals, doves, and other sacrifices. They played at being religious and faithful, but Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us Jesus said they had made His house, which was to be a house of prayer, into a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46)
But Jesus prays that His followers will be one in Him. John 17, which is all about relationships, is called Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. He prays, knowing He is about to die one of the most cruel deaths possible. The very night He was betrayed, the Son of God, our Savior, prays for His disciples and for “those who will believe in me through their message …” (v. 20). Let’s look at some key points in His prayer (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2017&version=NIV)
Jesus’ relationship with God and with us
His relationship with God
Jesus clearly claims to be one with God–He speaks of sharing glory between God the Father and God the Son before the world began (verses 4-5). Since in Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11 Yahweh proclaimed that He shares His glory with no one, Jesus can only pray in this way if He is equal to the Father, sharing His glory. Jesus asks that the glory He and the Father shared be restored to Him.
Our relationship with God
We often think of Jesus as being God’s gift to us.
And He is.
Because of His redemptive death on the cross and His resurrection, showing victory over death, we can have a relationship with Him. But in verse 6 He says we are also God’s gifts to Him (Jesus)! What an amazing and wonderful truth, that you and I are gifts from God to Jesus!
I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.
Our relationship with each other
What does Jesus ask God for? First, He prays not only for His disciples but for all who will believe “because of their testimony.” If we have received Christ’s sacrifice for our sins then Jesus prayed for US, just before His death. As the horror of crucifixion lay almost immediately ahead, He thought of you and me. “Amazing love! How can it be, That Thou, my God, should die for me?” (Charles Wesley, 1707-1788)
“That they may all be one in us!” (v. 21). We so often fail in this. We argue doctrines, we disagree about praise songs vs. hymns of the faith. And yet, it’s as if in Jesus’ prayer He expected our failures to be only temporary, that with the Holy Spirit’s guidance we would agree on the essentials of faith.
Despite our differences, we all meet on common ground at the Cross. Whether we are rich or poor, claim status or are criminals–is irrelevant when we meet at the foot of the Cross. We are on equal ground.
Lord, may we live as you prayed we would, at one with other believers, supporting, sustaining, loving, caring for despite whatever differences we may have. By your Holy Spirit, guide us into all truth as we trust in Your redemptive work at the Cross, completed because of God’s great love for us. I rejoice in the truth that, while Jesus gave me the greatest gift of all in an eternal relationship with Him by faith, I am also unbelievably a gift from God the Father to Jesus! I am beloved. Thank you, Jesus.