Peace is a popular topic this time of year. We sing about it in many of our Christmas carols and tend to think that because everyone is gathering together for the holidays, we’ll automatically just get along. After all, it’s Christmas! We know at the birth of Jesus, the angels declared “peace” to the earth, but the truth is, we don’t really find peace too much here on the earth.
Recently, I read John 17, which is the High Priestly prayer of Jesus. As I read it in silence to myself, I must admit I had to slow down. I needed to reread several of the phrases, so that I wasn’t confused by what was being said. A little later, I asked my husband, Peter, to read it aloud.
When I listened this time, I began to hear the brotherly message of Jesus. It’s like He was standing in a crowd of those He loved with His arms on the shoulders of those near Him, pulling as many as He could of them closer, looking around at them all, beseeching His Father on their behalf. His deep love for them is in every line. He prays continuously for them; He guards them. He has given them God’s Word, filling them with heavenly purpose and sending them into the world.
I also heard something else in this prayer: the reason why He does what He does for these beloved ones. Throughout the prayer, He repeats the idea four times. In verse 11, “protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” Then again in verse 21, He says, “that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you…”, and then in verse 22 and 23 He says, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
There it is: that we may be ONE. Unified. That we may have One God, One Great Love that orders all our loves and gives us one focus. One task, “so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me,” The first purpose of His coming was to give us unity with The Triune God, ultimately giving glory to God. God worked through Christ’s death to give us the ability to have oneness in heart, mind, and purpose with God. Then in verse 21, something else has been accomplished for all mankind. That is the possibility of being unified as one people under God. He desires that we have lasting peace and unity with one another, as they, the Three Persons of the Godhead, enjoy with one another.
For me, this truth shakes off the nagging insecurity that can come with the ups and downs of human relationships. It is knowing that the peace that I have with God, and the oneness that He desires with me, frees me to see every true believer in that same “oneness”, with Christ in the center. Paul speaks of this in Ephesians 2:
“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh… remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
In this passage, we see the means by which peace is accomplished, the purpose for which it is accomplished, and the outworking of ultimate peace. It has its foundation in Jesus, our Emmanuel; our Prince of Peace. For this the angels sang “Glory to God in the Highest!” Let our hearts sing along!