In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prays for all his disciples, both those who were following him at the time and those who would follow him in the future.
He asks the Father to protect them, just as he has protected them. This should be a great comfort to those who have faith in him. We are not left to fend for ourselves against the world and Satan, but God the Father provides for our every need, protects us and is able to deliver us. By his power, we are able to persevere to the end and glorify him.
He asks the Father that we might be one, just as he and the Father are one. Not that we should have superficial unity with those who claim to be Christians, but that we should have a genuine unity with all those who follow Jesus Christ and hold to his word. Something that will only be true of those whose walk is close with God.
He then refers to Judas Iscariot, giving us a sober reminder that not all who say “Lord Lord!” and do many things in his name will be truly his. After all, Judas spent a good few years as part of the twelve disciples, going from town to town preaching the Gospel. At the Last Supper when Jesus said one of the twelve would betray him, the disciples didn’t say “It’s that Judas – you can tell from a mile off”, rather Judas was indistinguishable from the rest, that they answered “Surely not I, Lord?” Judas himself may well have thought he was a follower of Christ. After all, he did what the other disciples did, he looked like them and talked like them. Are we like that? We should be careful that our claim to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ, by the grace of God.
The evening service was a microcosm of heaven, there were people from Korea, Nigeria, Iran, India as well as Britain in the congregation. Revelation 7 tells us that heaven will be populated with people from all nations, every tribe and language, all praising God, and the Lamb. The Christian faith is not about suppressing cultures. Christians are not called to dress the same or speak the same language in some drab monoculture, unlike some religions and philosophies of this world. Rather, we are to be united in Jesus Christ, adhering to his word, yet in the great diversity of language and culture. Some people liken the way God works and the way the world works with people with frozen water. When we freeze water, we make icecubes – all the same. When God freezes water, he makes snowflakes – all the same at one level, yet with inifinite diversity. Let us not spend all our time worrying about differing styles of worship, differing ways of dressing amongst many other differences, but spend our time concentrating on the unity which is ours in Jesus Christ, with those who trust in him and listen to his word.