My brothers and I are quite different. Laurence is a surgeon and runs marathons at the weekend. Edward is an artist disguised as an accountant; he met his wife in Japan when they discovered a shared love of the Beastie Boys. And me? Well…you can fill in the blanks, but we all know I’m no marathon runner.
There are all sorts of quite big differences between us, but despite that we’re still family (said in your best Godfather accent). And that’s not because we have the same interests or do the same jobs. It’s because of who we belong to; it’s because we have the same parents. There’s never a question over whether I am their sister, or whether they are my brothers. It just is the case.
Two weeks ago at our 6pm Autumn Launch we looked at Mark 3:35 where Jesus describes his followers as his family. Over the next few weeks we’re going to look at some other ways this family language is used in the New Testament. Today we’re going to look at Jesus’ prayer in John 17. In this chapter Jesus is praying to his Father on the night before his death. The whole chapter is worth meditating on, but we’re going to focus on a couple of verses:
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:20-21
There are three big things Jesus tells us about his family:
1. Jesus and the Father have a perfect family relationship. Their closeness and unity are so perfect that Jesus describes the Father being in him and he in the Father. In John 17:5 Jesus describes that family life as the Father and Son sharing glory before the world existed. It’s a family that already existed before the beginning of time– an eternal, divine, perfect family.
2. Jesus has brought us into his family so we share in that unity. Jesus is praying for everyone who believes in him, that they would be united with the same unity that he has with the Father. Then he goes one step further and prays that we would all be united to his family. When we believe in Jesus we’re gathered up into a perfect family life that has been going on forever.
There’s no question over whether I’m your sister or you’re my brother. It just is the case. We don’t all have the same interests or do the same jobs, but our unity as a church is on a whole new level because we’ve been brought into the perfect unity between the Father and Son.
So Sundays at 6pm are like an enormous family reunion. Some of you are the family members I see every week for supper, and some of you are the cousins I see less often, but either way, we belong together because we belong to Jesus.
3. Jesus’ family is a showcase to the world. Our family life together shows the world that Jesus has achieved something extraordinary. As we help each other, love each other, and hang out with those oddball cousins, our family life points to the bigger family life that we were made for – life with the Father through the Son. So now as I look ahead to my weekend, the thing I have in the diary for 6pm on Sunday is not an event I'm attending, but it's a family gathering - my family, your family - and I'm looking forward to seeing you there.