How can a Christian not love the Lord’s prayer of John 17:21? Not only is the Lord Jesus praying for you and me personally, but He also places before the Father His great desire (and therefore their eternal plan) that His people may be ONE just as our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son are ONE.
Now every reasonable person will agree that reaching any kind of genuine oneness is nearly impossible for us humans, “plagued” as it were with vast diversities of gender, race, ethnicity, culture, socio-economic status, education and age, not to mention the myriads of personality traits, habits, likes and dislikes. And yet Jesus prayed for ONENESS, and that means that, by His grace, ONENESS is attainable!
Such oneness, the kind that God desires, is not what we see on earth in contractual agreements (which are temporary and limited in scope), or even in marital covenants (which are shadows of reality as Eph 5:32 tells us). Rather, the everlasting, absolute and infinite oneness Jesus prays for can only be realized when it is born in our spirit, and from there it permeates and shapes the rest of our faculties, desires, choices and actions.
So what does that have to do with Israel?
Paul, in his appeal to the Ephesian disciples, placed a special emphasis on the term one new man. As we read in chapter 2, the apostle had to remind the Gentile disciples of their pagan origins as he drove home the fact “that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the common wealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Eph 2:12)
Yet, though these disciples did come from Godless and hopeless origins, the apostle comforts and encourages them with the greater truth that “Now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Eph 2:13) Paul explains to his readers that God, through Christ, abolished the enmity between Jew and Gentile, broke down the dividing wall (the literal wall which separated Jew from Gentile in the Temple Courts) and made both groups into ONE! For the first time, Paul actually introduces a new theological term in God’s redemption plan, branding this new community of Faith consisting of both Jews and Gentiles, the “one new man.” (Eph 2:15)
As we said earlier, the only way such oneness can ever be realized among us is through the Spirit. And the apostle affirms that, saying of this one new man community that “… we both [Jew and Gentile] have our access in one Spirit to the Father,” (Eph 2:18). This call to oneness is therefore first and foremost spiritual; it begins at the point of our New Birth and continues to grow as we mature in the New Life!
This historic miracle was brought about to fulfill a specific desire in the Father’s heart. Our God longs not simply to save many souls from eternal damnation, but to surround Himself forever with a holy people of faith, hope and love who are ONE IN SPIRIT. And this newly acquired access to the Father by the Spirit is scripturally attached to God’s purpose of reconciling Gentile and Jew in Christ.
Why? Because the drawing together of Jew and Gentile, God’s natural and spiritual seed, into this one new man community is the HARBINGER OF THE AGE TO COME. For it is during the Kingdom age that the natural and spiritual dimensions will also unite as divine life, love and healing power freely flow between heaven and earth as the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem open wide. (Rev 21:25)
Yet for now, while we look through the eyes of faith toward the fulfillment of God’s purpose, this prophetic call to oneness between Jew and Gentile requires (A) revelation and (B) a heart understanding followed by (C) mutual humbling and laying aside those things that divide us. It is a ONENESS of spirit and of purpose which reaches toward the blessed promise saying, “how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! . . . For there the Lord commanded the blessing, life forever” (Ps 133:1 & 3)
Keep this in mind as you reflect on the potential of Christian/Jewish relations in your sphere of influence, remembering that small displays of oneness on earth today will in time trigger immense measures of oneness in heaven.