May 5, 2013 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church – Mechanicsburg, PA
“Behold the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with Me. I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
As the Passover Meal on Holy Thursday drew to a close, Jesus wraps up His Farewell Discourse to His disciples. You heard some of that last Sunday, including the statement that closed the Gospel Reading: “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” Jesus’ statement foretells the outcome of His death and resurrection. Rising from death, Jesus will return to His disciples. They will have joy replace their sorrow that came at Jesus’ crucifixion.
But the reality of the sorrow is there. We talked about that last Sunday. Jesus’ words heard this morning reinforce that fact for His disciples: “Behold the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave Me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with Me. I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Jesus tells them what they will go through. When He is arrested in Gethsemane, His disciples will run away. Yes, there will be the swordplay of Peter. But after he is told to stand down by Jesus, Peter and the rest will abandon Jesus. One young man will run away naked, leaving his linen cloth behind.
Despite this running away by His disciples, Jesus is not left alone. He is supported by the Father: “Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with Me.” This is why Jesus prays to the Father in Gethsemane. It is why He recites the words of the 22nd Psalm on the cross, a song that speaks of death and resurrection. It is why Jesus can call on His Father to forgive the sin that the soldiers commit in their ignorance—the murder of a righteous man. And when knowing all is finished, everything that the Father willed has been completed, Jesus commends His spirit to Him. Jesus is not alone; the Father is with Him. His words reveal that: “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
What Jesus undergoes in His death and resurrection accomplishes something for His disciples. Those who ran away out of fear are changed. They need that change that Jesus gives to them. This is why He discloses the events that will take place: “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace.” He does not keep the future events secret. He does not sugarcoat their experiences. No, Jesus is quite clear that they will abandon Him. He is also very forthright about the troubles they will go through as His followers.
But Jesus is also quite clear about what He is doing for His disciples: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” That is what Jesus’ resurrection does. It provides victory over the world and the tribulation that the world causes. By rising from death, Jesus restores order; He brings things back to the way that the Father willed it from the beginning. That work includes the reestablishment of the harmonious relationship between God and man.
Jesus discloses the status that His disciples will have after His resurrection. It is preceded by the closing verse from last Sunday: “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” Then Jesus speaks the words you heard this morning: “In that day you will ask nothing of Me. 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 gives His disciples direct access to the Father. They now have a status similar to His own. Just as Jesus could speak directly to the Father, now His disciples can. That privilege is theirs because Jesus has removed the barriers between God and them: “the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I have come from God.”
This status that Jesus gives to His first disciples is extended to you. The negatives that come from that status are present. You do have tribulation in this world because you follow Jesus. But your fate is not to be left wallowing in the troubles of this world. That is not the outcome of Jesus’ work for you. Jesus reminds you that the world has been overcome by His death and resurrection. He has made you part of something greater than this world. He has brought you into His Church, into the company of all those who have loved Him and believed that He has come from God. So the Father loves you. You are given the privilege of calling God your Father. It is how you pray to Him because you have been made His children. You ask for the things that you need, especially during the times of trouble; He answers by providing them for you.
In the prayer that Jesus instructs you to offer to the Father, you make petitions for what you need and desire. You ask help to keep God’s name holy in what you say and do. You want to be included in the borders of His kingdom. You desire that His will for you be accomplished here on earth. You look to Him to give you food in due season. You request the absolution for your sins. You seek aid to be led through the times of temptation without sinning. And then you make the ultimate request of the Father: take us from the clutches of the evil one and bring us to eternal safety.
All the petitions that you make to the Father in the Lord’s Prayer are offered in Jesus’ Name. He has authorized you to do so. He has given you the command to pray this way. And this is given with the 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.” Why can Jesus give this promise? Why will these petitions be answered? Because of what He has done for you. He has overcome the world.
What you ask of the Father is predicated on the death and resurrection of Jesus. The result of those events—order restored, divine will fulfilled—make it possible for you to ask of the Father and to receive. United to Jesus’ death and resurrection in baptism, made adopted children of God through that act, you can call God your Father. You can expect Him to answer you. And you can anticipate the receipt of the inheritance promised to you. It is yours as you love His Son Jesus and believe that He came from God.
The overcoming of the world that Jesus accomplished by His death and resurrection provides the answer to your ultimate request of the Father. You ask to be delivered from the evil one. That petition calls for removal from all the tribulation in the world, from all the opponents of God, from all the effects that your sin and the offenses of others work, from all the plagues and illnesses, from all blemishes and bruises that earthly life causes. Such deliverance is possible because your Lord Jesus bore all these things for you. It is yours because Jesus fulfilled His words: “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
Jesus’ coming into the world and then His going back to the Father has brought forth the blessed fate that John saw in his vision. What John saw of the Church is what he saw of you: “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.” That is where you belong. That is where Jesus’ work takes you. That is what the deliverance from evil looks like: “Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” You are in that book of life. That is where Jesus’ death and resurrection places you. It is how you have peace in Him. This is the blessing that God has bestowed to you through the gracious, saving power exercised on your behalf. So you may ask of the Father for it. Loved by Him, you shall receive.
+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.