- Thomas à Becket did that when he said, “I am ready to die for my Lord, that in my blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace.”
- P. T. Barnum didn’t do nearly as well when he said, “How were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?” I guess that is what was important to him.
- Beethoven is reported to have said, “Friends applaud, the comedy is finished.”
- Francisco “Pancho” Villa couldn’t think of anything profound. His last words were reportedly, “Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something”
Famous last words. Today’s reading from John 17 aren't really Jesus LAST words. His actual last words are a series of seven different sayings spoken from the cross. But John 17 is the last prayer that Jesus prayed on his last night of freedom. The prayer begins, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.” Jesus clearly knows that he is about to die. He had lived under the shadow of the cross His entire life, and now that destiny was upon him. Jesus had earlier said to his enemies, “But this is your hour—when darkness reigns” (Luke 22:53).
In effect, John 17 stands as Jesus’ famous last words, the request of the condemned man. It is not surprising that Jesus prays for Himself (John 17:2-5) and for his closest friends (John 17:6-19). What is surprising is that He also prays for you and I, and what he prays for is our unity. Look at John 17:20-23 (NLT)
I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.Jesus final hours of freedom were spent in prayer, and a big part of His prayer was that we would have unity. So you and I have a part in deciding whether or not His last prayer is answered!
There are a lot of things that people have done for Jesus for which He never asked. He never asked for a holiday honoring His birthday. He never asked that all time be measured from His birth. He never asked that great cathedrals be built in His honor. But His dying prayer, His last request, has largely been ignored by His people— the plea for the unity of those who would follow Him. His last request was that we who would wear His name would live together in peace and harmony. Unity must have been important to Our Lord. Is unity important to us?