I had the privilege of speaking this Easter at my home church on “Why the Resurrection is the Greatest Event of All Time.” (Message begins at 41:20 into the service.)
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed that the Father would “take this cup of suffering from me.” He went to the cross hours later. Was this an unanswered request?
In His intimate Upper Room discourse, Jesus ended the Passover meal with His longest recorded prayer in Scripture–asking that His followers be united (one), just like He and the Father (John 17:23).
That prayer is unanswered 2000 years later.
I believe there is only one unanswered prayer of Jesus Christ. In the 21st century, it’s time to change that.
Time to Fulfill Jesus’ Unanswered Prayer
Many theologians believe when Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, he was expressing His humanity and weakness before experiencing a tortuous death. They believe He wanted out of the suffering (Luke 22:42), but virtuously submitted to “not my will but yours be done.”
They applaud his submissive heart but believe this was unanswered prayer where He “flinched” a bit before yielding to God’s will.
I’m not so sure.
Hebrews 5:7 tells us, “While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could deliver him out of death. And God heard his prayers because of his reverence for God.”
When is the only time we hear of Jesus praying with loud cries and tears? In the Garden of Gethsemane. What happened? God sent an angel to minister to him and He was strengthened.
I believe Satan wanted to kill Jesus in the garden to prevent him from going to the cross. But Jesus had “set his face like a flint,” cried out to His Heavenly Father, and was saved (in Gethsemane). He went on determinedly to give his life for the sins of the world.
That’s the Jesus I know. Resolute. Unflinching. Answered prayer–for himself.
But when it came to praying for us, he has experienced an unanswered request: for the unity of the Church. It’s time to answer Jesus’ prayer. The world desperately needs it.
I love that football fans hoist up the banner in stadiums across our nation to point to a central Bible truth: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
You even find it on the bottom of In N Out Burger packaging. (Thank God for their bold witness. Please give them your west coast business.)
We now need another sign everywhere and in our hearts:
It is the prayerful heart of Jesus for His people just hours before He was crucified. Let’s quote John 17:22,23 to give full meaning:
“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Note the simple meaning of the prayer. When the Church is united, like He and the Father are united, two things result: 1) The world will recognize the true Messiah (“You sent me”), and 2) The people of this world will know that they are loved.
John 17:23 unity of God’s people is a key to world evangelism (Jesus is the Way) and healing human hearts (they are loved by God). When the Church is disunified, there is confusion over many messiahs and a prevalence of low self-esteem and human guilt.
Thus, the sin of disunity among Jesus’ followers is among the worst.
God dealt with me severely on this issue many years ago. I looked down on some denominations and groups (I called them “God’s frozen chosen'”). I complained that Billy Graham’s message encouraged “cheap grace.” I was not praying for all of God’s people. And I didn’t bother to cross the street to another “church” outside my own.
God began to deal with my pride and indifference to His prayer. I learned that humility is the key to unity in any group (marriage, family, church, nation). God showed me that oneness comes when we recognize our own weaknesses and need for others’ strengths.
I repented. We started financially supporting the Billy Graham Association; I served the first national gathering of the American Church (Washington For Jesus, 1980); I joined the “prayer summit” movement of pastors in the 1990’s; And I started to do everything in my power to promote the biblical unity of God’s people on earth in answer to Jesus’ passionate request.
Presently in America we are being “out-unified” by the enemies of God. An “American Axis of Evil” (Democratic Party, secular media, and Deep State) have come together to tear down our Judeo-Christian civilization. Black Lives Matter joined that alliance recently and took in ninety million dollars last year to stamp out godly principles in our nation.
A recent BLM 42-page report declares victories in the election of two Democrats to the U.S. Senate in Georgia’s runoffs as well as three Democrats to the U.S. House from Texas, New York, and Missouri. The report credits the new PAC for coordinating get-out-the-vote efforts. The main Black Lives Matter organization also sponsored legislation for the first time while making generous grants to allied organizations.
They now sport a sister organization called Black Lives Matter Grassroots, which includes state chapters across the U.S. and Canada. Here’s the message from the grassroots group about its relationship with the foundation:
“As official chapters connected to BLMGNF, we envisioned a set of guiding principles and processes to ensure our relationship to the foundation and the movement remain true to our core values. While we stay true to our guiding principles, we are also growing into a new iteration of our collective movement.”
BLM and its affiliates are more in sync than the Church.
More recently, large companies have united with the anti-God (cancel culture) crowd. Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, and others joined Major League Baseball in moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver over new Georgia voting rights laws that are being lied about–even by President Biden.
Jarrett Stepman explains this emerging synergism:
“’When we discuss woke capitalism, what we mean is a top-down, anti-democratic movement on the part of some of the biggest and most important names in American business to change the way business functions. Many of the largest corporations in the world have merged their interests with activist investors who intend to shape policy and culture through the immense power these companies can wield. Not only do corporations now wade into America’s political debates, they also often operate in concert with one another.”
In concert with one another.
Reminds me of Acts 4:24-31 that describes a “concert of prayer” among believers (verse 24) against the forces of evil “gathered against your Holy Servant Jesus” (verse 27). They faced the same “unity against unity” struggle in those days.
Today, a satanically inspired symphony of evil stalks the USA and world to bring great harm to people and nations while the people of God stand on the sidelines and gripe about doctrine, petty differences, and ignore Jesus’ prayer that we be one.
The sin of disunity is the Church’s Achilles heel. Secular forces are uniting. God’s Church is asleep and impotent through division.
Next week I will suggest a way forward to fulfilling Jesus’ unanswered prayer.