“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21 NIV)
“In me… in you… in us…” Really? In – from the Greek preposition “en,” meaning inside the interior of something. Not a complicated, mysterious word at all. This was Jesus’ prayer, just before being killed.
I’m a life-long fan of murder mysteries. Hercule Poirot. Sherlock Holmes. Nero Wolfe. When trying to figure out “who dunnit,” the wiley detective always asks, Who benefits?
Thinking back to the events leading up to Easter, the cruelty, the overwhelming horror and anger and grief of the helpless disciples as their leader was assassinated, an odd question floated into my mind. Cui bono? Who benefits?
Well, I knew I would. I would benefit from not having to go to hell for my sins. But what was in it for Jesus? What could Jesus do after he was resurrected from the dead that he couldn’t do beforehand? What was in it for him?
So many strange things, supernatural things, miraculous things he had done before he died. Commanded the winds and waves. Walked on water. Multiplied bread and fish. Created wine out of water. Vanished into thin air. Completely disguised his appearance. Raised dead people back to life. Healed incurable diseases. Took authority over invisible evil spirits. Conversed with thousands-of-years-old patriarchs. Flattened Roman soldiers with two words, “I am.”
All those amazing things Jesus did as an unchanged human being. Things he told the disciples they could also do, and trained them how to do.
And toward the end he explained – several times in fact – what was coming next. Arrest. Trial. Guilty verdict. Death penalty. Roman execution. Resurrection. To give you eternal life, if you believe in me. This is necessary. This will benefit you.
But how did he, Jesus, benefit, I wondered? What could he do for himself after he came back to life, that he couldn’t do before he died?
Inhabit other human beings. Know them inside out. Enable them to know God. Experience God. Empower them to obey God.
Beforehand, he was limited to one place; limited to paying attention to what was going on in the immediate vicinity.
He had potential like no other human being at that time. He knew who he was, he knew God’s plan from beginning to end, and knew the end game would be successful. But it was limited potential. Limited capacity. One man. One “seed.”
One seed of corn can produce one stalk. One stalk can produce several ears. One ear can produce many seeds. Several ears can produce a multitude of seeds. Fields full of stalks. Unlimited potential. Unlimited capacity. (See John 12:24)
Jesus’s prayer answered. John 17:21 fulfilled.