Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Today is the last Sunday before the celebration of the Ascension. In these 40 days we have remembered the 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension, when our Lord walked with His disciples in a visible form.
Our text for today relates the farewell of Jesus to the disciples on Holy Thursday, before His death and resurrection, and of course, His ascension. Jesus spoke of all these things as His return to the Father. His victory over the devil, sin and death ends His mission in this world, and then His exaltation would come to the right of God the Almighty Father.
This discourse continues for many chapters in the Gospel according to Saint John. Our text today is one part that deals with prayer. For the first time, Jesus said to his disciples, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. So far you have asked nothing in my name; Ask, and you will receive, so that your joy may be fulfilled. "
Previously, Jesus had taught the disciples to pray to the God the Father in this way: "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven ...", etc. This prayer is still the model for our prayers. But, Jesus taught them to pray to the Father, not in His own name. Because before the fulfillment of His mission, His death and resurrection, the disciples did not have the promise that the Father would listen to them in the name of Jesus.
We have this promise primarily because Jesus paid the debt of our sins by His death on the cross. Therefore, we can approach God with our requests covered with the blood of Jesus, that is, with the righteousness and holiness of Jesus, not by our own righteousness and holiness. This was not possible before the death and resurrection of Jesus.
In His exaltation, when He ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God Almighty Father, Jesus was made our advocate and spokesman before the Father. The author of the letter to the Hebrews speaks of Jesus as our High Priest. In the Old Testament, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies to offer propitiatory sacrifices for the people and present their requests and thanksgiving to God. And if Jesus is our High Priest, we are priests who can offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and intercede for our family and friends in the name of Jesus. We can do that only because Jesus made the perfect propiciatory sacrifice in His blood. Those who are not covered with the righteousness and holiness of Christ do not have the promise that God will hear their prayers.
We have the promise that if we pray in the name of Jesus, God will listen to our prayers and respond to us. To pray in the name of Jesus means to pray in humility and reverence for things consistent with the teachings of Jesus. Not in a selfish way, to gain all things for ourselves, but for the welfare of others and not for things against the will of God.
Nowadays false teachers teach that if someone has enough faith, God will give him wealth and success in his work and relationships. This is false. The power of prayer is not in the strength of our faith, but in the suffering, death and victory of Jesus Christ.
The purpose of prayer is not to change God's plans, but to increase our trust in God's will. As our catechism says, the Father knows our needs before our supplication.
In our text, Jesus spoke clearly with the disciples at that time because the hour of trials was near. "Behold, the hour is coming, and it has already come, in which you will be scattered each one to his own, and you will leave me alone, but I am not alone, because the Father is with me."
For us to pray in the name of Jesus, He had to fulfill his mission. But, also to understand how to pray in the name of Jesus, they had to witness His death and His resurrection. The victory of Jesus was on the cross. Also, on the cross is the evidence of God's love and mercy. In creation we have the evidence of the power of God, and at the second coming of Christ in glory, we will have evidence of God's justice. But on the cross we see the grace of God.
Therefore, Jesus said to his disciples, "These things I have spoken to you so that in me you may have peace, in the world you will have affliction, but take heart, I have overcome the world."
The way of Christ in this world is the way of the cross. Maybe God will bless us with riches or success to help others. But, we should not be comfortable in this world. All the things of this world will pass away, but the Word of God will not pass away. Our trust is in this Word, which as Christ rose from the dead, one day we will be resurrected to live with Him forever.
In this hope we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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