Wednesday, July 31, 2013

We Pray in Jesus' Name: The Theme of Prayer in John 13.31-16.33

Click HERE to listen to or download the sermon
Scripture: John 14.12-15; 15.1-17 (esp. vv.7-8, 16-17); 16.16-28 (esp. v.23-24, 26-27) Translation: 14.12Amen, Amen, I say to you, the person who believes in Me—as far as the works that I’m doing are concerned also that person will also do [them] and will do greater works than these! 13And whatever you would ask in My Name, I will do this, so that the Father would be glorified in the Son! 14If you ask Me for something in My Name, I will do [it]!

15.1I am the True Vine and My Father is the Gardner. 2As far as every branch in Me that doesn’t bear fruit is concerned, He will take it off. And as far as every3Already you are clean because of the message, which I have spoken to you. 4Stay in Me, and I [will stay] in you. Just as the branch is not able to bear fruit from itself unless it stays on the vine, in this way you can’t [bear fruit] unless you stay in Me! 5I am the Vine, you are the branches! The person who stays in Me and I [stay in him—this person bears a lot of fruit, because without Me you can’t do anything! 6If someone doesn't stay in Me, he will be thrown outside like the branch and dried up and they will gather them together and they will throw [them] into the fire and it will burn up. 7If you stay in Me and My words stay in you, ask for whatever you want, and it will happen for you. 8In this My Father is glorified, namely that you would a lot of fruit and become disciples for Me. 9Just as the Father loves Me, I also love you! Stay in My love! 10If you would keep My commands, you stay in My love, just as I am in a state of keeping My Father’s commands and stay in His love! 11These things I’m in a state of speaking to you, so that My Joy would be in you and your could would be completed! 12This is My Command: Love one another, just as I love you 13No one has greater love than this, namely when someone puts his life for his friends! 14You are My friends, if you do what I ordered you. 15I no longer call you slaves, because the slave doesn’t know what his master does. But you I am calling friends, because all the things, which I heard from My Father I make know to you. 16You didn’t pick Me for yourselves; rather I picked you for Myself and appointed you, so that you would go and bear fruit and [so that] you fruit would stay—so that whatever you would ask the Father in My Name, He will give you! 17I’m commanding you these things, so that you would love one another.
thing that bears fruit is concerned, He will clean it, so that it would bear more fruit.

16.16For a little while [longer] and then you will look at Me no longer. And again for a little while, and then you will see Me. 17So, those of His disciples said to one another, “What is this, which He’s saying to us: “for a little while and then you won’t look at Me, and again for a little while, and then you will see Me”? and that “I will go to the Father”? 18So they said, “What does this ‘for a little while’ mean? We don’t know what He’s saying.” 19Jesus knew that they wanted to ask Him, and so He said to them, “You’re trying to figure out about this with one another, namely that I said “for a little while, and then you won’t look at Me, and again a little while and then you will see Me.” 20Amen, Amen, I say to you that you will cry and mourn, but the world will be happy. You will be pained, but your pain will become happiness! 21The woman whenever she would go into labor has pain, because her hour has come. But whenever she has given birth to the baby, she no longer thinks about the suffering because of the happiness that a man was birthed into the world. 22And so on the one hand, you will have pain now, but on the other hand I will see you again, and your heart will be happy! And no one will take your happiness away from you! 23And in that day, you won’t ask me for anything! Amen, Amen, I say to you, whatever you would ask the Father in My Name He will give to you! 24Until now you haven’t asked for anything in My Name, ask and you will receive, so that your happiness would be filled up! 25These things I’ve been speaking you in figures, a time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but with clarity I will announce about the Father to you. 26In that day, ask for yourselves in My Name, and I’m not saying to you that I will ask the Father for you, 27because the Father Himself loves you, because you love Me and believe that I’ve come from God! 28I’ve come from the Father and come into the world. Again I will leave the world and go to the Father!

The Point I’m Stressing: We pray in Jesus' Name, and God gives us what we ask for,, and He answers us for His glory and for our happiness, assuming we have a living relationship with Jesus that bears fruit, especially the fruit of loving one another!

1.      Structure
a.       The statements about prayer all occur in the same larger section in the book of John. It takes place in the upper room and on the way to the Mount of Olives. This is during the crucifixion narrative, but more specifically it is the section where Jesus talks with His true disciples, because Judas has left to betray Him. These are the final discussions Jesus will have with His disciples before His crucifixion. The general context of the passages is that Jesus is telling the disciples the stuff they will need to know while He is dead and then after He returns to the Father in Heaven. The current section goes from 13.31 to either 16.33 or 17.26, either way the teaching on praying in Jesus’ Name comes up a total of 5 times in about 3 chapters, and if the section does come to the finale of Jesus’ prayer in ch.17, then it seems especially appropriate to the theme of prayer in this section.
b.      The first time it appears is in 14.12-13, it functions as the transition from a discussion on Jesus doing the Father’s work to the to Jesus promise to ask the Father to send the Spirit so that they can do Jesus’ work while He is gone
c.       The second time it appears, it is interjected into the parable of the Vine and Branches and Gardener, found in 15.7-8, where it serves to close the parable, and where v.9 starts to unpack the parable.
d.      The third time appears in 15.16, where it serves to help close off the explanation of the parable, and tell the purpose/motivation for producing fruit (v.17 is both a bracket with v.9, and a transition to the theme of the world hating Christ’s followers)
e.       The fourth and fifth time both come in the closing section (16.16-33) of the larger section of 13.31-16.33. this closing section forms a bracket with the opening section, where the key phrase “for a little while” or μικρον appears in 13.33 as it is the core discussion of the final section (16.16-33) as well as the shared theme of Jesus’ departure which is threaded through the whole section, but finds its greatest intensity towards the beginning and end of the larger section, with 15.1-16.4 forming a central section that does not say that Jesus is leaven even once, and only hints at it towards the end as Jesus transitions to saying again that He is leaving at the beginning of ch.16. 16.23-24 (the fourth occurrence of praying in Jesus’ Name) serves to close off the more figurative part of the closing section, while 16.26-27 (the fifth occurrence) opens the more blunt part of the closing section. The two mentions are separated only by v.25, and thus seems to form and internal center for the final section. The final two mentions of praying in Jesus’ Name specify that the disciples will ask God directly and that Jesus will not ask for them. However, ch.17 is mostly Jesus’ prayer for them and later disciples, so Jesus will pray for them. It is adds to the contrast of what will be, but also it comforts us that even though Jesus will not need to be the intermediary for our prayers, He still prays for us.
2.      Themes
a.       Jesus is going away
                                                              i.      This is the main theme of the larger section, it gives the context for what else was said
b.      Staying connected to Jesus
                                                              i.      This a core theme of 15.1-17
c.       Bearing fruit
                                                              i.      This is result of staying connected to Jesus, forming another core theme of 15.1-17
                                                            ii.      Bearing fruit is closely correlated to loving each other, but likely
d.      Love
                                                              i.      This is a major theme for the larger section, it is the larger theme, the main moral instruction that Jesus gives to His followers
                                                            ii.      This is what Jesus seems to mean by “bear fruit”, although as mentioned above Jesus may have a larger view of what fruit bearing is, but at the very least it means loving others and probably loving God
                                                          iii.      Love also is the reason that we can feel free to ask the Father whatever we want
                                                          iv.      Also Jesus instructs us that while Jesus love is on one level unconditional, it does seem to be something that we can actively experience if we do what Jesus’ says (15.9-10)
e.       Joy vs. Sorrow
                                                              i.      This is also a major theme that is threaded through this larger section
                                                            ii.      Grief comes into play mainly because of Jesus coming departure
                                                          iii.      Joy comes mainly from the presence of the Holy Spirit and Jesus preparative teaching and by asking and receiving (answered prayer rocks!)
f.       Jesus coming back
                                                              i.      It plays a more subdued role, since the main theme is that He is leaving, but the hope that is paired with the message of His departure (referring perhaps at different times to both His coming death and ascension into Heaven) is that Jesus will one day return
g.      Coming of the Holy Spirit
                                                              i.      This is also a major theme in this larger section of 13.31-17.26
                                                            ii.      Jesus continues to praise the Holy Spirit and tell His disciples all that He will do and help them with after He is gone.
                                                          iii.      The Holy Spirit will replace Christ’s direct personal contact with the disciples
                                                          iv.      The Holy Spirit is explicitly said to be one of the things that Jesus will ask for from the Father for us. The Holy Spirit is the answer to Jesus’ prayer
                                                            v.      This seems to indicate that this is one prayer that we could also ask and expect a certain answer, in the sense of more filling/active work of the Holy Spirit in us, since Jesus’ prayer for us was effective and we all have the Holy Spirit who trust in Christ for eternal life
h.      Ask for anything/Pray in Jesus Name and it will be given
                                                              i.      Whatever you ask
                                                            ii.      In Jesus Name
                                                          iii.      It will be given
1.      By Jesus, if you ask Jesus (14.12-14)
2.      By the Father, if you ask the Father
                                                          iv.      Connected with
1.      Doing greater things that Jesus/Jesus’ work (14.12-13)
2.      Glorifying the Father (14.14 and 15.8)
3.      Bearing fruit (15.8)
4.      Staying in Jesus and having His words stay in you is the requirement for praying for whatever you want (15.7)
5.      Being picked by Jesus and appointed by Him (to go and bear fruit) (15.16)
6.      Loving one another (15.17)
7.      In the day of Joy, when we see Jesus again
8.      Having our joy fulfilled/filled up
9.      when Jesus will speak bluntly/clearly
10.  being direct connection with the Father
11.  being loved by God
12.  loving Christ
13.  trusting that Jesus is from God, that He is God

3.      Doctrines
a.       Jesus is in Heaven
b.      Jesus is Coming Back
c.       God loves us
d.      Jesus should be loved
e.       Jesus is from God, that is, He is God and is the Father’s authorized spokesman
f.       God answers prayers prayed in Jesus’ Name
g.      We have direct access to the Father in Jesus’ Name
h.      Jesus wants us to be happy
i.        Producing fruit requires staying connected to Jesus, and producing fruit and staying with Jesus is required to have prayers answered
j.        Producing fruit means loving God and others
k.      Prayer is powerful
l.        The Holy Spirit rocks! He teaches us and makes us experience God directly while Jesus is away!
m.    God is glorified through our prayers
n.      Jesus will empower us to do Greater things than Him by His Holy Spirit and because of prayer

1.      We should ask for whatever we want
2.      We should pray in Jesus’ Name
3.      We should pray to the Father, but we can also pray to Jesus
4.      We should expect God to answer our prayers
5.      We should pray for impossible things
6.      We should pray to have the Spirit work more powerfully through us
7.      We should seek God’s glory in our prayers
8.      We should pray for fruitful Christian lives
9.      We should be happy when God answers our prayers

10.  We should feel comfortable coming to God with our requests 

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