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LSB Easter 6C Sermon – John 16:22-33

May 1, 2016

May 1, 2016 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church – Mechanicsburg, PA

“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God.”

Jesus’ teaching in the Upper Room Discourse speaks about the relationship that He has with His disciples and the relationship that His disciples have with His Father. Some of His statements are quite familiar, as they have passed through the ages: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me…. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples….” Those are just a sample of what Jesus had been saying to His disciples on that Holy Thursday night.

But as the night moves on and the hours go by, the time for Jesus to fully engage His task of bringing redemption to the world drew near. Before that time comes when Jesus will leave the Upper Room and head to Gethsemane, the place of His betrayal, He speaks one more time about the relationship that He has with His disciples and that they now have with His Father. Jesus gives a promise: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” 

Jesus declares that His disciples will have the ability to ask the Father for goods in His name. This is a new privilege for them. It isn’t that Peter, James, John, and the others had never prayed to Yahweh, the LORD. No, like the other descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they had done so with regularity, particularly at the annual Passover festivals. But now this asking would take a different form. Jesus’ disciples will make requests of the Father in Jesus’ name.

When Jesus speaks this promise, He reveals the relationship that His disciples have to Him. They are His followers. They are the people who have received Him as the LORD’s promised Messiah. They are the ones who have come to know and possess the new life that Jesus was bringing into the world. This marks Jesus’ disciples as different than many in the world, even from many in the land of Judea. But that is the precisely why they have this tie to Jesus, a relationship that gives them access to salvation and other blessings from heaven above.

As Jesus reveals this relationship that His disciples have to Him, He also states how that defines their connection to the Father: “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God.” Those words reveal how the disciples’ belief in Jesus makes them people whom the Father loves. The disciples had heard what Jesus had said and had seen what Jesus had done. That led them to make the confession about Jesus, as famously stated by Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” They welcomed the One whom the Father had sent, the One through whom the Father had shown His love to the world. And for that reason, the Father loved them. For that reason, He would give what He has to Jesus’ disciples.

Hear again those words about the relationship that Jesus’ disciples have to Him and they have to His Father: “The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God.” Those words are not limited to the group of men who first heard them in that Upper Room so long ago. No, Jesus’ words speak about you. For what have you come to know and confess? Think of what you say weekly—if not more often—about Jesus in the Creed, particularly this phrase: “…who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man….” This is your declaration about Jesus. Your statement recognizes that Jesus has come from God. It also testifies to your love of Him, for you claim that He is the source of your salvation, the One in whom you put your eternal trust. For this reason the Father Himself loves you.

So what does that mean for you? You also have the access to the Father that Jesus spoke of on that Holy Thursday: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” This is the access of faithful prayer that all Christians, including you, have. It is your great privilege to exercise and use.

Think on that phrase that Jesus says: “Until now you have asked nothing in My name.” Those words are descriptive of your lifetime. It isn’t so for you now. But once it was true for you. Before you were called to believe, before you were given to hear about Jesus’ identity and work, you did not ask anything in His name. You would have had no right or reason to do so. But this wasn’t a blissful ignorance. No, this is actually a hard truth that speaks about the condition of sin. Prior to the enlightening work that the Spirit of truth has performed in you, your hearts and minds knew nothing good of God, let alone confidently and faithfully asking Him for anything of actual benefit. Any knowledge of a deity was that one might exist and that it was probably more powerful than you. There was also the innate partial understanding of laws, some of which would bring a belief that crossing any deity would be a bad idea.

With that as your relationship to the Father, there would be no asking for anything good, let alone doing so in Jesus’ name. But that has changed for you. You have made the confession that Peter did about Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And as Jesus has said, this was not the revelation of flesh and blood, but the Father’s revelation to you, a revelation worked by the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father and the Son. That has drawn you to the state that Jesus described: “The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God.”

So now you have access to the Father, as Jesus promises: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you…. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” This is part of your baptismal identity, the result of bearing the name of God and being made His children. That is why you now ask the Father for good things in Jesus’ name, for the sake of His Son’s work done for you.

For what do you ask? What forms the requests that you make? You can think of the Lord’s Prayer with its seven petitions asked of your Father in heaven: Holy be Your name…Your kingdom come…Your will be done…Give us our daily sustenance…Forgive our sins…Lead us in truth, not into temptation…Deliver us from evil. Those are the good things you ask to be done for you. They are rooted in the work that Jesus has done, bringing you into a right relationship with the Father, so that you recognize Him as your Creator who desires and does only good for you.

Your prayers go further than just repeating the seven petitions verbatim. Your requests spring from those petitions that Jesus taught you to say. In particular, they focus on the eternal, heavenly gifts that the Father can bestow. You ask for forgiveness and sanctification from the Father in Jesus’ name, just as you did in the Preparatory Rite: “For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy name.” You ask for guidance to live as His obedient children: “We ask You not to forsake Your children but always to rule our hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit that we may be enabled constantly to serve You.” You ask for your place in the heavenly dwelling places, the New Jerusalem that you heard described in John’s Revelation: “Gather us together, we pray, from the ends of the earth to celebrate with all the faithful the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end.”

There are many other prayers that you offer, both for temporal and eternal good. But all those prayers are linked with common bonds. They are all asked of the Father in Jesus’ name. They are all asked because of what Jesus has made you. They are all asked because your relationship to Jesus has created a relationship with the Father for you: “The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God.”

So you ask. You ask boldly and confidently as dear children ask their dear Father. You ask because the Spirit of truth has revealed what Jesus has done for your redemption. You ask because you love Jesus whom the Father sent. You ask and expect to be answered, for you trust the promise given by the Father’s Beloved Son: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” That is the privilege you now have. That is the privilege which Jesus has established for you, according to His Father’s good and gracious will. Let it be a privilege that you frequently exercise.

+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

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