BIBLE READING: John 17: 20-26
What does 1 + 1 equal? It's not really all that complicated, but it is worthy of reflection for it has implications for our lives together. Here is the formula, an equation, really: 1 + 1 = 1.
Rather strange mathematics, isn't it? Well, it's God's mathematics. It works because as Jesus states in our Gospel lesson this morning, we are one in Christ and one with the Father.
Jesus says "that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me."
Jesus and the Father are one and the disciples and those who believe are one. Jesus plus the Father plus those who believe equal one. One!! We are all one in the body of Christ.
Just think, we are all one today in the body of Christ. One. One leader, one person in charge, Jesus Christ. Jesus knew something that we sometimes forget. We need someone in charge. We need to have someone that everyone can turn to.
We need more than a committee. Jesus knew that the disciples needed someone to be in charge. Someone had to be the leader. And that leader was Him.
There couldn’t be one chosen successor to Jesus. His message had to go out into the world - a light in the darkness, a gift in a world sorely lacking in love. It was the message of Jesus, told in his words, in the story of his life. A single successor might be deified, might become the focal point for all the love and faith people had for Jesus.
A committee can never win the hearts of people.
A committee can never inspire passion.
A committee can never lead as a light shining in the darkness.
The disciples needed to be one, they needed to support each other, they needed to remind each other of the story of faith. When one faltered another would be there to support. When one fell, another would be there to step in and help them up.
Today, we gather around the one, Jesus, and help Him spread the love he has for human kind.
The season of Easter is coming to a close and today we also celebrate the Ascension of Jesus. At that time according to Matthew's gospel, Jesus gave the disciples the Great Commission. He said, Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things which I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
At the ascension the disciples were given the commission to go, but Jesus also told them to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to descend upon them, so that they might be filled with his presence to do the task that lay ahead. That power was given on Pentecost. On Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the coming of God's spirit into the lives of the disciples, the birthday of the church, and the power given to the disciples to go, to make disciples, to baptise people of all nations.
But between the Ascension and Pentecost, we are in a period of time that is somewhat confusing. Jesus has ascended, he has given the great commission, but the power to do the task that lay ahead has not been given. So the disciples go back to the upper room to wait, to think, to ponder, to pray, to trust, to believe. And I think that the church is about to go through a period of thinking, pondering and praying. A time to do some clear thinking about that gospel message Jesus is asking us to proclaim. Time to pray, to ponder, to renew, to refresh, to examine again in a personal and corporate way what the gospel message means for us, what it means that Jesus is lord of our lives.
Jesus gives us a brief outline of what the gospel message is all about.
First he says, that He and God are one. There is a unity in the God head. 1 + 1 = 1. If you want to know about God look to Jesus. If you want to know what God is like, how he is going to treat you, look to Jesus. Jesus and God are one and their purpose is to save, to redeem a fallen world.
But not only does Jesus say the he and the father are one, but he tells the disciples that they and him are one. There is a togetherness, an unity, a harmony, a common cause between him and the disciples. There is a bond that links Jesus with his disciples, just as the bond of love links Jesus and his father in heaven.
It is the dream of every minister to have a congregation filled with people who are that determined to be in worship every Sunday, whose passionate desire is to be together and worship God week by week. I need not even say to you that there are church members who are much more dedicated to their favourite sports team than they are to God and each other. They give more money to their team. They know more about the players on their favourite team than they ever will about the members of the congregation, or about the people written about in the Bible. And I guess I may not live to see the days when people in the average congregation will sit in a cold, miserable rain to worship God like many will do to cheer on their favourite football team. Perhaps that's because we don't understand the essential nature of the church. If we could see the church as Christ sees the church, we would not take attendance as casually as we often do.
Jesus tells us we are one with him, That there is an unity, a bond, a link that brings us into his presence, and that his presence can, and does affect our lives, so that we might then become like Him, so that we might become his presence in this world to bring his love, mercy and compassion.
Yes, Jesus wants to give us the wisdom, the power, and make us one with him as we journey through life. But we must be dedicated. We must come together in his house each week to keep that bond alive.
Jesus wants to be our guide. We are to take a hold of Christ and be guided in our love for Him and in our love for those around us.
There is a story about a mountain guide who lived in the mountains of North Wales. One day, two mountain climbers came to his cabin and asked if they could stay with him as they climbed the hill and mountains. The guide said yea, and asked the men if they needed a guide. "There is no need," said the man "we don't need a guide, we have our compasses, we have our charts, we have our maps that will bring us back here."
"But" said the guide, "I know the mountain tracks like the back of my hand; I know where the dangerous pits are, I know where the tall cliffs are, I know how to guide you around those and through those difficult places."
But the men just said again and again, all of that is on the map, we can find our own way.
Then the old guide smiled and said, "You may have the map, but the mist is not on the map”
Yes, that gospel message that we are called upon to proclaim has been briefly outlined for us by Jesus. He reminds us he and God are one, and He tells us that we and him are one. He is at our side, giving us the power to live life, and giving us the guidance we need as we journey through the mists of life. As we live and wait for the Pentecost, let us focus on that gospel message so that, when filled with the spirit's power, we might proclaim that message not only in words, but in our actions, in our lifestyle, in the power of the risen Lord in our lives.
1 + 1 = 1 in God's mathematics. Jesus and God are one, and we and Jesus are one.