John 16.23-24: “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.”
The key seems to be “until now” you have not asked in my name. It is because only now is the gospel being fulfilled. But now, Jesus has purchased EVERYTHING necessary for the joy of the believer. That means if we pray for something and do not get, it was not necessary for our joy.
John 16.26: “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.”
Prayer is also our opportunity to have direct access to the Father through Christ and experience his Fatherly love for us in His responses.
My point from John 14, 15, and 16 is that these “whatever you ask in my name” passages are not for us to think that we must be doing something wrong if we are living godly lives, and yet God will not take the cancer away, or bring a spouse, or prevent tragedy. If I put all the passages together, prayer according to Jesus is ‘asking the Father for help in bearing fruits of obedience, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father, and so that we might have our joy complete and experience the direct love of the Father.’ And it seems if that is one of the main ways we pray, our prayers will be ultra successful (John 15.16)!
John 15.7-8: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
- This parallels John 14.13-14 in that it is another passage on asking, the thing we ask for is done for us, and the thing asked for brings the Father glory.
- Notice that Jesus says fruit brings the Father glory. Fruit in John 15 is obedience (follow the train of thought from John 14.15). Not results of obedience, but obedience. If believers bear fruit of obedience, the Father is glorified.
- What Jesus is saying here is: “If you remain in me, and see opportunities to obey from my words that remain in you, then ask for help in obeying and you will have it! By this my Father is glorified, when you pray for obedience and bear the fruit.”
John 15.16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
- The point Jesus adds here is that he has fore-ordained our fruits of obedience. And his reason for doing so is that we would have successful prayers! “I appoint you to bear fruit, so that when you pray and ask for help in bearing the fruit, you will definitely have it (because the Father loves his disciples bearing fruit).
So prayer in Jesus’ name in John 14 and 15- asking for God to help us bear fruits of obedience for His glory. It is no wonder we can ask whatever we wish and we will have it. Do not take these verses out of context!
As our church works our way through the gospel of John, I have been discovering the richness of these classic passages on prayer. One thing is clear so far: too many people use the “ask anything” passages out of context. Too many Christians– even those in solid, gospel-centered circles– are left discouraged because of a misunderstanding of Jesus’ call to “ask for anything in my name and you will have it.” Here are some things I have discovered so far:
- John 14.12- Jesus says his followers will do “greater” works because he is “going to the Father.” That has to mean the good works we do have “greater” effectiveness because him “going to the Father” means the gospel is fulfilled.
- John 14.13- “Whatever you ask in my name this I will do” flows right after this, so the natural meaning is when we see opportunities for those “greater works,” we will pray and ask Jesus for it! And it ends up being Jesus doing the work, not us! But the reason he would ever do it is “that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” The reason there would ever be an answered prayer is that the Father is glorified in Jesus.
- John 14.14- “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” is basically v13 restated. The key seems to be asking for things “in Jesus’ name.” But that is not something that we can will to happen. From v12 and 13 something is truly in Jesus’ name if God Himself determines to give it greater effectiveness and determines to bring Himself glory through it.
I think the prayer passages in chapter 15 shed even more light on the subject, but one thing that comforts me in that is that I do not have to think that the “in Jesus’ name” is all on my shoulders. “In Jesus’ name” seems to be all on Jesus’ shoulders; we just simply keep asking and stop thinking that an unanswered prayer was a contradiction to this passage. More to come…
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Jesus comforts his people with:
- What he will do (2-3)- he prepares a place for those who trust in him! And the thing to get excited about is not whether they are rooms or mansions or if each gets their own; we should be excited that we get to be WITH HIM!
- What he has done (4-11)- Jesus has shown us the way to the Father (6); Philip thinks there is more he needs to do to show us the Father (8). But Jesus says his words and works are the very words and works of the Father Himself (10-11). The point of the miracles are not for us to duplicate them! It was to show us the Father!
- What he does through us (12-14)- Christians can do things with “greater” effectiveness because of what Jesus has accomplished. And Jesus assumes we will pray as we do these “things”. Prayer is the great comfort because we get to be involved with what Jesus is doing to bring His Father glory.
In order to illustrate what the disciples may have felt when Jesus told them he was going away, I told Kailua Baptist Church that I needed a sabbatical, then told them I was kidding. I would not recommend this to any pastor, but, o, did it illustrate it perfectly!
A couple more sermon outlines from John (our sermon recordings did not work). This passage comes on the heels of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, and then the betrayer leaving their midst.
There are at least four marks of Christian love:
- It is relatively new (31-34)- now that Judas has gone out, Jesus’ death is set in quick order. Jesus can command a new love now because the gospel is about to be fulfilled! Love has never been clearer than in the earthly life of Jesus; that is how this is a new command
- It must imitate Christ (34)- Jesus loved his disciples with a self-sacrificial, gospel-centered, commitment-filled love, a love that is a love for people who do not deserve it. He showed them this love from day one until the day he died on the cross, and then until he was taken up to heaven. That is how he loved; Christians must also love one another that way.
- It must be visible (35)- “by this all men will know you are my disciples” means people will see Christians loving each other. It is not just a warm feeling we have toward each other; it is expressed visibly.
- It proves your faith (35-38)- Peter wanted to keep following Jesus; he wanted to show he was a committed disciple. He said he would lay down his life for Jesus! But that profession of faith is not how Jesus said we are to show we are his disciples; it is by our love for each other that we show it.
One word on “all men will know” that we are Jesus’ disciples by our love: that is a direct call to world missions. “All men” will never know we love each other if we do not take that gospel love out there.
Before moving on to more thoughts on the local church vs. the universal church, here are some thoughts on John 10 (our recordings did not work, so the two sermons from John 10 will never be on the KBC website; lost forever in space and time):
John 10.1-21- Jesus wants believers to live the abundant Christian life (John 10.10). Listen for his voice, and go through him and to him. Not only is he the gate, he is also the shepherd. “The thief” in verse 10 most directly applies to false teachers in context. It is not wrong theologically to apply it to the devil, but wrong textually.
John 10.22-42- This text really explains the two titles of Jesus well: Jesus as the Christ and as the Son of God. His reference to Psalm 82 is very difficult to interpret. I think his logic is ‘you say I am wrong for calling myself the unique Son of God. But God has called men ‘gods’ before. All mankind are ‘gods’ in the Psalm 82 sense. If you do not want to trust me, at least take a good look at my works, that testify that I am the unique Son of God.’
John 10 is glorious Christology: Jesus is the gate, the good Shepherd, the Christ, the Son of God, Giver of eternal life, absolutely ONE with the Father.
I think after this there is just one more sermon outline to put up, then our church website should have the rest.
In John 5.30-47, Jesus says there are three witnesses who testify about his Messiahship:
- John the Baptist (33-35)- the baptizer’s testimony did not make Jesus any more the Messiah than he already was, but Jesus knew many Jews respected John’s ministry, and he wanted them to be saved (34)! Jesus wants the ones who want to kill him (18) to be saved.
- God the Father (36-44)- the works the Father gave Jesus to do testify about Jesus, and the Father in some way has spoken about Jesus. Verse 39 makes it clear that He spoke about Jesus in the Scriptures. The OT, according to Jesus, testifies all about Jesus. And do not miss the fact that the written Word is the way Jesus claims the Father speaks.
- Moses (45-47)- Jesus is telling the self-proclaiming Moses-followers that they do not believe Moses, since they do not see the Law as pointing to Jesus. Followers of Christ have the authority to tell self-proclaiming believers that they are not believers.
With all these witnesses, we should always believe EVERYTHING Jesus says about himself.