A Personal Relationship with Christ

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A Personal Relationship with Christ

John 16:23–30 (CSB)

[23 “In that day you will not ask me anything.] Truly I tell you, anything you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.  24 Until now you have asked for nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

25 “I have spoken these things to you in figures of speech. A time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 On that day you will ask in my name, and I am not telling you that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God., 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

29 His disciples said, “Look, now you’re speaking plainly and not using any figurative language. 30 Now we know that you know everything and don’t need anyone to question you. By this we believe that you came from God.”

Dear fellow redeemed: Last week we read the words just before this, in which Jesus explained that after His death and resurrection He would govern all things for the good of the church, also through the power of the Holy Spirit. So many things he says make no sense if He were an earthly king, or mortal. They only make sense in relation to the resurrection and ascension.

So also here. He talks about the relationship between Him and his disciples in the future, in the era of the Kingdom of God beginning at Pentecost. What is our relationship to Him in the New Testament era, the age of the world until He comes again? It is …

A RELATIONSHIP DEFINED BY WORD AND PRAYER

  1. By Christ’s Coming to Us in His Word
  2. By Our Coming to Him in Prayer
  1. By Christ’s Coming to Us in His Word

The essence of our relationship to Christ is His NAME, His revelation of Himself to us in Spirit and in Truth. The essence of any relationship is knowledge about the other person, and we can only know Christ as He reveals Himself to us.

Our text last week ended with Jesus comforting the disciples with an end to their sorrow and confusion because in the Resurrection the reality of our salvation would be revealed. “In that day you will not ask me anything,” He says. We begin today with the Jesus’ next statement, “Truly I tell you, anything you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.” Why will we not ask and then ask?

The first sentence could actually read, “In that day you will not inquire anything of me, or ask for information.” And the second could read, “Truly I tell you any want or need that you beg of the Father in my name, he will give you.”

Christ had not yet been fully revealed to the disciples in His state of humiliation. But by His crucifixion, resurrection, 40 days of instruction, and finally by the gift of the Holy Spirit, the disciples would come to know the essential whole of Who Jesus is. 25 “I have spoken these things to you in figures of speech. A time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but I will tell you plainly about the Father.

We have come to know Christ in the same way, and in the same way Paul did when He said, “More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8, CSB)

Notice that the initiative is with Christ. He doesn’t tell us what we inquire, but what He reveals to us. What He has done for us to save us is hidden in eternity and only revealed in the doing of it. That is what we need to know. That is what shows the true love of God for us. It would be revealed in the doing of it and in the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus looks ahead to Pentecost: 25 “I have spoken these things to you in figures of speech. A time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but I will tell you plainly about the Father.

He then reveals in four clauses the essence of His saving work: ., 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

29 His disciples said, “Look, now you’re speaking plainly and not using any figurative language. 30 Now we know that you know everything and don’t need anyone to question you. By this we believe that you came from God.”

They thought He was clear, and He was, but still they could not imagine what this all meant. But you know. You know Him, for He has been revealed to you. We confess this in our creeds.

I came from the Father: He is the only-begotten Son, the second person of the Trinity from eternity.

[I] have come into the world. Jesus was born also true man of the virgin, Mary. In this world He lived out our righteousness and died our death, rising gloriously.

Again, I am leaving the world: Having risen from the death, He would reside with His disciples 40 days, and then no longer limit Himself to his condition in the state of humiliation.

[I am] going to the Father. Jesus was soon to ascend to the right hand of God, that is, He would not be present in one place or time, but would fully resume His omnipresence in place and time, so that He could be truly with us here today, in His Holy Supper, and in His watchful care over us, as it is written, He exercised this power in Christ by raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens—far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he subjected everything under his feet and appointed him as head over everything for the church,(Ephesians 1:20–22, CSB)

This is what He has revealed to you so that you may know Him and believe that He is your Savior. To know this is to know “His Name.” Remember, the Bible uses “Name” to stand for the whole revelation of someone. God’s “Name” is the whole of Scripture by which we know Him.

2. By Our Coming to Him in Prayer

So, our relationship with Christ in this age of the world is first defined by His coming to us in His Word and revealing to us His Name. Our relationship with Him is further defined by our prayer to Him in His name: He says, Truly I tell you, anything you ask [beg, demand] the Father in my name, [that is, according to what is revealed of me] he will give you.  24 Until now you have asked for nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

A believer’s prayer is in the Name of Jesus, that is as a believer reconciled to God, but also in the Name of Jesus in this sense, that it takes into account what we know of Him. I may, for example, ask that my life be extended, but I do so knowing that our times are in His hands, and as a sinner, I must suffer the death of this body, unless the resurrection day comes first. I may ask that some trouble in my life be removed, but I may also be reminded when the Lord’s answer to Paul was “No.” He added, “My grace is enough for you.”

But that won’t keep me from asking – begging, even. For He has invited me to, and He loves me. My life is full of answers to prayer, as well as countless blessings unasked-for. In the New Testament age, we come directly to our creator with our requests. Jesus goes on …

26 On that day you will ask in my name, and I am not telling you that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.,

We have become priests of God. That is, we can pray directly to God the Father ourselves because we have been reconciled to Him by Christ. You should know that God loves you and is delighted to hear your prayers. That is why, even in this midst of this uncertainty generated in the world, we may call upon the Lord and be certain that He hears, and answers according to His love.

Because He has come to us in His word and sacraments, we know Him, and we receive His gifts daily. Because we know Him, we come to Him to lay our petitions before Him, as He has invited us, Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30, CSB)

AMEN.