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Sixth Sunday of Easter

May 26, 2019 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Easter

Passage: John 16:23–16:33

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith 
Text: John 16:23-33
Date: May 26th, 2019 Easter 7; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus said in our Gospel lesson, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”
  • Isn’t that wonderful!  
  • Whatever we ask of the Father in Jesus’ name - we get!
  • Well, I ask in Jesus’ name that the Saskatchewan Roughriders will win the Grey Cup this year.  
  • Actually, why stop there - I want them to win the Grey Cup every year!
  • I ask in Jesus’ name that I make the PGA golf tour this year - what a thrill it would be to tee-it-up with Tiger!
  • I ask for ten million dollars in Jesus’ name - I suppose I could ask for more, but I don’t want to be too greedy!  
  • Is this what Jesus meant when he said,  “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”
  • Is Jesus saying that he is like a magic genie who will grant us all of our wishes if we just ask for them in his name?  
  • Unfortunately there are some Christians who believe and teach this.  
  • It seems to be a popular message that you hear from preachers on TV.    
  • An obvious question to ask is that if this is true - then why doesn’t it always work?
  • What happens if someone prays for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to win the Grey Cup instead of the Riders?  We can’t both get whatever we want.
  • Based on my 2 rounds of golf so far this year - I have a good hunch that I won’t be playing golf with Tiger Woods on the Tour anytime soon.  
  • I’m also quite confident that ten million dollars is not going to suddenly appear in my bank account.
  • But why not?  I asked in Jesus’ name? 
  • Well, the response you will hear from those who teach and preach this stuff is that I don’t receive what I ask for because my faith isn’t strong enough.  
  • Or, maybe I didn’t pray in the right way or think positively enough.  
  • Or maybe I did something wrong and I’m being punished.
  • They teach that if I had said the right words, or if my faith was strong enough, or if I wouldn’t have done that terrible thing - well then I would have gotten what I asked for.
  • In other words, God is ready to give you whatever you want, but, first, you have to do your part.  
  • You have to live up to his demands and expectations for you and you must have a super strong faith – then he will grant what you desire.
  • This type of theology is sometimes called the “prosperous gospel” or “name it and claim it” theology.  
  • This theology and teaching is not only false and unbiblical – it is dangerous and can be very harmful.
  • Now, it might not seem like a big deal when we consider the silly things I asked for earlier.  
  • Although it might be nice, I don’t really need those things.
  • But what about when a loved one is seriously injured in a car accident and is on life support in the hospital.
  • You pray in Jesus’ name for a quick recovery to health - but it doesn’t happen.
  • Or if you are diagnosed with cancer and you ask for healing in Jesus’ name, but the chemo and radiation isn’t working.
  • What then?  
  • Again, those who teach and preach this stuff would say, “If only you had more faith.  If only you said the right prayer.  If only you had sent us some money.  If only you were a better Christian.  Then you would get what you asked for - it’s your fault that God didn’t answer your prayers.”  
  • Dear friends, this is not what Jesus meant when he said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”
  • Although we might wish that Jesus had meant that, although we might think it would be great if Jesus was a magic genie who would grant us everything we want - the truth of the matter is infinitely better.
  • It is infinitely better that Jesus does not grant us whatever we want - but instead grants us what we all truly need, what he has promised, and what is truly best for us.
  • It is infinitely better that Jesus is not a magic genie who grants our wishes - but is our eternal Saviour.
  • What Jesus is really teaching the disciples, and all of us this morning, is that we now have access to God the Father.  
  • We can come to God the Father with our prayers directly because of Jesus.  In the name of Jesus.
  • This promise is connected to our Baptism.
  • With the name of God put upon us in our Baptism, we can now approach the Creator of the Universe as one of his beloved children and pray to him - just as Jesus prays to the Father.
  • And how does Jesus pray to the Father?  
  • Well, when the disciples asked him how they should pray, he gave them the Lord’s Prayer.  
  • And the petitions we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer, asked in Jesus name, are always answered with a “yes”.
  • In the name of Jesus, we can go to God with our prayers and petitions with confidence, knowing that he will answer in the way that is best for us.
  • The Roughriders likely won’t win the Grey Cup every year.  I probably won’t be playing golf in the Masters Tournament anytime soon.  It’s unlikely that I will get ten million dollars.
  • But we have God’s promise that we will get what we truly need. 
  • We have God’s promise that we will graciously receive from him what is truly best for us.
  • Think of the relationship between parents and their children.  Parents love their children dearly and would do anything for them. 
  • But there are times when children ask for things that are harmful.
  • In these cases, parents shouldn’t give these things to their children simply because they ask.  
  • In fact, the loving thing to do is to say no. 
  • In the same way, God the Father doesn’t give us everything we ask for.  
  • He doesn’t give us things that will cause us harm.  He doesn’t give us things that are contrary to his will.
  • God always answers our prayers perfectly.  He always gives to us what is most beneficial.  
  • We may not always understand or like the way that our prayers are answered.  
  • But in faith, we trust that the answers we receive are according to God’s will and are for our best. 
  • God answers all of our prayers with our eternal well-being in mind.  
  • This can be difficult for us to grasp because we are so wrapped up in our temporary well-being.  
  • At the end of our Gospel reading for this morning, Jesus leaves us with some very comforting words.  He says, “But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
  • Our hope in the Christian faith is not for worldly gain and success and prosperity.
  • Our hope is that because our Saviour has died for our sins, because Jesus has overcome this fallen and sinful world, because we have been baptized into Christ’s death – we also will be raised in his resurrection to life everlasting.
  • Jesus has overcome the world.  He has overcome all of your sin.  He has overcome your loneliness and sadness.  He has overcome your sickness, pain, and suffering.  He has overcome your death.  
  • So, dear children of God - take heart!  Amen.
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The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.