Jesus' next prayer for us in the seventeenth chapter of John is for sanctification. Sanctification is just a multi-syllable word (I generally lurve those) that means something really simple: to be made holy. If we make something holy, we set it apart. Many times we will say that we have consecrated it for service.
As Christians, we are set apart for God's purposes. So Jesus is praying that we would be set apart by the knowledge of this truth: the truth of Who He is. And after we know that truth, we are ready to be sent into the world, as the disciples were. Again, we are in the world, but we don't belong to the world. Being holy, being consecrated means that we belong to God; He has set us apart for a special purpose.
In the same way that God sent His Son for a specific mission in the world, Jesus is asking that God would send us for His work in this world.
It's important for us to remember that sanctification doesn't mean that we live a perfect life, but that we live an obedient life. The temptations of the world, the weakness of our flesh, and the attacks of the devil are daily battles that we must fight. Being set apart doesn't mean that we are stored away, the way one might put something special on a shelf. It means that we are consecrated and ready for the battles that come!
Jesus' third prayer for us is a prayer for unity.
Do you recall watching any of the Peanuts TV specials? Or reading the comic strips? It was always a favorite of mine, and I remember one featuring Lucy, Linus, and the TV. Lucy has walked into the den where Linus, blanket in hand and thumb in mouth, is watching television. She demands that he change the channel, and threatens him with her fist if he doesn't comply. "What makes you think that you can walk right in here and take over?" asks Linus. "These five fingers," says Lucy, "Individually they're nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold."
"Which channel do you want?" asks Linus. And, turning away, he looks at his own fingers and says, "Why can't you guys get organized like that?"
What does it mean to have unity here on earth? Well, there's a couple of things that it doesn't mean . . . it doesn't mean that we are all going to agree on every point of doctrine. Nope.
It also doesn't mean that there is only one denomination. Nope, not that either.
But it does mean that we are united in confessing and proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of God. It means that we confess together, in a united way, that He is the Lamb of God that takes away our sins. And it means that we all are united in our faith that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Several times in our chapter, Jesus repeats his request that God unify us. So we can see, this is not a unity that we can achieve all on our own. It's not our efforts that will bring about this unity.
Ever seen a symphony orchestra preparing for a concert? Do you see each musician nudging their neighbor, hearing a tone from their neighbor's instrument, and then tuning to it? Nope.
There is one violinist, called the concertmaster, who will stand and play one note as all the others listen. Then, whether they are violins or cellos, trumpets or tubas, clarinets or French horns, they will all tune their instruments to that one concertmaster's note. That is the standard that they all use, to achieve a harmonious result when they play.
In the same way, if every Christian or church member looks to Christ for their standard, for the holiness and grace that they strive to achieve, they are in heart far closer to each other than they could be in any other way. If they took their minds off Christ and thought about how much they'd like to have close fellowship with each other, they won't achieve that unity they desire. It's only by looking to Jesus that we can have unity of purpose and unity of hearts.
Just imagine what the fellowship could be like, if we would all look to Him! And imagine what a "terrible weapon to behold" we would be, in the eyes of the devil. Surely he would tremble!