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John 17:6-19

Lesson Focus

Understanding the intertwined concepts of unity, diversity, and love as exemplified in Jesus' prayer for his disciples.


Lesson Outcomes

Through this lesson, students should:


1.    Grasp the importance of unity within diversity in both the divine and human contexts.

2.    Recognize the inseparable link between unity, diversity, and Christlike love in fulfilling the mission of the Church.

3.    Reflect on their media consumption habits and consider how various voices influence their perspectives on unity, diversity, and love.


Catching up on the Story

Jesus and the disciples are in the upper room sharing the Passover meal. Jesus has many things still to tell his friends about what is soon to take place. Not only will Jesus tell his friends what’s going to happen, but he also prays to the Father for them.


It’s kind of hard to imagine what exactly that was like. I’m sure the disciples had some inkling of what Jesus was talking about. They’re not so dumb to have missed all of the times that Jesus said he was soon going to die. So, somewhere in the back of their minds, they knew that the end of what they had experienced for the last several years was close.


Last week’s text came from the same section in John’s gospel. Then, Jesus implored them to adhere to his commandment and love others in the same way that he had loved them.


We discovered that the way we are loved, the quality of the love we receive, and the manner in which it is received shape who we are and how we offer love to others. The nature of Jesus’ love for us is shaped by the nature of the love that exists within the Trinity.


Jesus makes it clear that the way in which Jesus and the Father and Spirit love each other is the same way that he loves the disciples. The disciples, in turn, are to love each other and the world around them with that same love. God's love for them shapes their love for the world.


Protect them…

Jesus is wrapping up his prayer and this particular discourse. After this, Jesus and his disciples will go to the garden where Judas will betray Jesus by handing him over to the Jewish religious leaders. For now, however, Jesus focuses on seeking protection for his friends.


The richness of this particular section of John makes it difficult to choose one or two things on which to focus. I constantly fear failing to communicate what God has us to hear from his word. Nevertheless, I think two things are particularly important for us as the church.


First, Jesus prays for divine protection for his friends and unity with them. Unity has always been God’s plan for creation. If we were to go back to the Garden of Eden story, we’d find that this is what Adam and Eve experience, not just with one another but with God as well.


Oh, I imagine that the first couple had disagreements with each other, but those disagreements never resulted in the kind of destruction we see today. This is an important point for us as we consider what unity in the church is about.


Unity doesn’t require uniformity. It doesn’t require that we all be