John 17:20-21 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
The unity of the believer with Christ is one of the great wonders of salvation. Jesus speaks of this in His prayer to the Father in John 17 above. He prays for the unity of believers with one another, but beyond that, He prays for the unity of believers with Himself that is “just as” His unity with the Father. Have you ever pondered how awesome this is? To understand it just a little bit, we must first consider what the unity of Jesus with His Father is like. It is a unity that is so close that He could tell the apostle Philip, “Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9). In other words, everything the Father is, Jesus is. In His divinity, Jesus is just like God – omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, immutable, and any of the other divine attributes. His words are God’s words, His love is God’s love, His mercy is God’s mercy, and His grace is the grace of God.
But what about our unity with Jesus? We are not God. That should be obvious. However, just as we are humans, Jesus is a human, and all He is in His humanity the believer is as well. So, in what sense is this true? First, as Jesus died, we have died, i.e., the penalty that Jesus bore for our sins on the cross we have borne already “in Him.” In other words, His death on the cross for sin is our death on the cross for our sin. Our penalty has been paid just as if we would have been the ones hanging there. The unity is that intimate. It’s that real. As it says in Romans 6, “we have been united with Him in death.”
Furthermore, because death only occurs to any person, including Jesus, once, “death no longer has dominion over him.” And because of our union with Him, death no longer has dominion over us. That means there’s no more sting in it. Rather than a pathway to hell, death is a pathway to resurrection for the believer, for that’s what death was to Jesus. Again, in the words of Romans 6, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”
But it goes beyond that. Because of our unity with Christ, God has not only “raised us up with him (but also) seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). Think of it. Heaven is so certain for the believer that the Bible tells us that there is a sense in which it is already our home, because everything Jesus is, we are. That’s why the Bible tells us that believers already have “citizenship in heaven” (Philippians 3:20) and that they are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). Although we are waiting for the full reality of all this, it is so certain that the Bible speaks of it in present terms rather than future.
And something else. Just as God sees Christ, He sees us because of our union with Him. He loves us as much as He loves His Son, He wants to have fellowship with us just as He wants fellowship with His Son, and He wants to shower all His gifts and His inheritance on us just as He showers all these things on His Son. Not only that, but He sees us as having the very same righteousness of His Son. It’s called the “great exchange” by some, i.e., “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
What a wondrous thing is our union with Christ! What a certain thing. God sees it as actually being true right now, although we wait for it to be seen in all its fullness when we meet Him in Heaven someday soon. And so the Bible tells us to go about being what we already are, i.e., since we are righteous, we are to be righteous. Since we are citizens in heaven, we should act like we are. Since we are dead to sin, we are to be dead to sin. Now that we’ve been raised from the dead spiritually, we shouldn’t continue to act like we’re still dead spiritually.
We are to be what we are: that’s one of the great messages of God’s Word. And the fact is that this is possible because of the wonder of our unity with Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord!