Keep on Believing & Praying John 14:6-14
At Veterans Memorial Chapel
By Ch Jim Odell
This is a synopsis, or quick review, of the sermon for January 3, 2021. I am only hitting the highlights of the message, not reproducing the entire sermon.
In our continuation of the study of the Discourses of Jesus in the Gospel of John, we are looking at Jesus’ instructions to His disciples, in the “upper room” the very night He would be betrayed. Our passage is John 14:6-14.
He has just told His disciples He is going to die and then return to His Father. They are dismayed at the message. He then tells them that He is gong to prepare a place in heaven for them. That was our last lesson. It was as great a comfort to His disciples then as it is to us today.
However there is a lot of “time and space” between the “then” of Christ’s death and ascension, and the “some day” of His return or our going to be with Him. How did they (or do we) live in the “now” time between the ascension and the return of Christ. Christ gives His disciples two ways to live in this “in between time” I am calling the “now.” First, we need to believe and pray, (14:8-14), and secondly, we need to know about the “other comforter,” the Holy Spirit whom Christ was going to send to His disciples (14:15-31). We will deal with the first of these ways to live today.
Jesus has told His disciples, in 14:6, that He is “the way the truth & the life.” He is the only access to the Father. Let me pause at this point to show you a radical difference between Jesus and New Testament Christianity, and the Jewish Old Testament worship system. The Jews saw God as “Father” in the sense that He was the “creator” of the world (Father of nature or eternity), and “chooser” of the Jewish people. It was the idea of “father” as founder and care giver. Jesus changed this by presenting God as the imminent & personal father. He calls God, “Abba Father.” This is an Aramaic term of an intimate relationship of father to child, like our use of “papa,” “dada,” or “daddy.” The Jewish rabbis would have viewed such a usage as disrespectful and irreverent.
Jesus begins to refer to God as “the Father” in the Lord’s Prayer, instructing us to begin with “our father,” a radical departure from Jewish worship practice. Then He uses the Aramaic term “abba,” which is a common expression like “dada” or “papa,” in instructing His disciples on how to approach God in prayer. Disciple Phillip then asked Jesus to “show us the Father.” Jesus explains that to see “me” (Jesus Christ) is to see the Father. The two are one, each living in each other. To see the Father is to see the Son, to see the Son is to see the Father. He calls on His disciple to believe this. Keep in mind, Christ calls on us to “believe on” Him to become a disciple. But He also calls on us to “keep on believing” as we move through life. We need to believe and receive Christ’s salvation. We also need to keep on believing and trusting Him for our every day lives each day of our lives.
Christ points back to the ”works” He has done as the proof of who He is. This would be the miracles He has done. He says, “the Father did them through me.” He then boldly says, “you will do greater miracles than I did” (14:12b).
Christ on earth was “limited” to being in one place at one time. He never traveled beyond about a 150 mile radius in His ministry. Never visited any major cities besides Jerusalem. When he returned to His Father, He left His disciples to carry on. As they grew in number, they too, were able to do “great things,” not in just one place at a time but in many places. 120 people, were in the “upper room” on Pentecost morning, yet by the end of the natural life of these 120 people, the entire Roman Empire knew about Christianity. Two hundred years after the death of the last apostle, Christianity had “conquered” the Roman Empire.
Countless times in history we see Christianity moving in and conquering or changing the various cultures of the world. In this New Year, with all its challenges and trials, we can rest assured that Christ is not yet done using His church to advance His kingdom.
This work will be done, as we learn to pray (14:13). Christ says, “whatever you ask in my name, I will do it.” Do note, the request is so He and the Father would be glorified, and that His will be done. This is not a card blanch to get every little thing you ever wanted, and “live happily ever after.” It is a promise that we will get all we need to carry on His ministry on earth.
Our requests must be asked “in my (Jesus’) name.” This is not a magical formula, an “abra-ca-dabra,” which makes something appear which was not there before. But we ask because He owns it and can give it.
I worked my way through seminary, and sometimes afterwards, as a bank teller. There were people who took pieces of paper, and wrote requests of payment to someone (themselves or someone else), then signed a name at the bottom. These were called “checks.” Back in my banking days, there were “sig cards” (signature cards) filed in the bank’s backroom for every account in our bank. The teller could look at the card and see who was authorized to sign checks on a particular account.
The teller asked two questions about any check he was about to “cashed out.” 1) Is the “signatory” (person who signed the check) authorized to sign this check? And 2) Are there sufficient funds in the account to cover the amount requested on the check? In this verse (14:13), Jesus is awarding to us “signature privileges” to write checks on His personal account in heaven. Furthermore, since He owns the whole universe. There are “sufficient funds” in the bank to cover whatever requests we make. This assumes what we are asking is for His ultimate glory. God is training us to be mature sons and daughters, not over indulged spoiled brats. Keep in mind, too, the context. In only a couple hours, He will pray in Gethsemane and willingly submitting His personal will to the Father’s ultimate will.
As we approach this New Year, we see many challenges ahead. Christ has said He will be with us. We are one year closer to heaven than we were last year. Nevertheless, we are still on this earth, with all its struggles, cares, and challenges. We have two powerful weapons at our disposal, belief and prayer. We can lose hope and go into despair, or we can recall that Christ is with us, and call on Him for the resources we need to thrive in this New Year, since He gave us access to His divine and unlimited checking account to meet our every need.
Have a Happy and Blessed New Year
CH Jim Odell