John records several challenging sayings of Jesus. How do we understand, “I and my Father are one” in 10:30? In what sense are they one? We know Jesus prayed to his father all night on at least one occasion (Luke 6:12), and in his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane he said, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). So how was Jesus “one” with his Father when they had separate ‘wills’? We will soon read “I am going to the Father for the Father is greater than I” (14:28).
The solution to this conundrum unfolds in chapter 17 in his final prayer before his betrayal. He is praying for his disciples and says, “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me” (verse 10). It was after his all night prayer (in Luke 6) that Jesus chose his 12 disciples (verses 12-16). Now note the verses which follow in John 17. Our Lord prays, “I am coming to you Holy Father, keep them in your name … that they may be one, even as we are one” (verse 11). His prayer for his disciples is that they may have unity of mind, a unity of understanding creating a harmonious team in carrying on his work. Until this stage there had been times of jealousy, a competition “among them as to which of them was the greatest” (Luke 9:46).
Jesus, and God his Father, had a unique oneness – and this was to be the disciple’s role model. But Jesus extends his vision of oneness further, he prays, “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 one in us …” (verses 20,21).
All those who believe the original gospel as established by the disciples should aim to be “one” in this wonderful way. Those who have achieved and maintained this wonderful oneness will be the ones to reign with him when he returns to set up his worldwide kingdom. Paul was very conscious of this and stressed it. He counselled the Ephesians to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace … just as you were called in the one hope … one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (4:3-6).