We can tell a great deal about a person by their final wishes, their concluding words or their last will and testament. They reveal what that person considers to be important. They demonstrate priority. Jesus’ ultimate prayer is one such revealing moment. Just before His betrayal, just before He died for the sins of the world, just before the most momentous event in history, Jesus Christ poured out His heart to His Father (John 17). Of all the subjects about which He could have prayed, why did He choose unity?
Did Jesus want to protect us? Was He simply desiring to alleviate some of the painful divisions in our lives? All of us have experienced the stress of disagreement, whether in the privacy of our families or the formality of the law courts. Some of us have even experienced it within the body of Christ. Was it this that attracted Christ’s compassion? Or was it something more profound?
I am inclined to believe that unity is far more precious to God than we can possibly imagine. I am not sure that Jesus could have prayed for anything else. God, after all, is one. His will must therefore include unity. All righteous unity on earth finds its template in Heaven. The heart of the message that Christ declared is reconciliation. God can no more bless disunity than He can bless unrighteousness. Equally, where there is unity, He commands blessing.
When the Early Church gathered together, they prayed in agreement, they shared everything in common, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. They were united. As a result the church grew exponentially. I think it was an answer to Christ’s ultimate prayer.