May 22, 2022 anno Domini
Our Father. You should marvel every time you are privileged to utter those words. You should get down on your knees, lay flat on the floor, and not even dare to look up when you say, “Our Father” but you don’t and that’s fine, because, after all, God is your Father.
Fathers and mothers are different. I know I’m not supposed to say that in the United States, but it is true. You can ask your dad for ice cream right after you didn’t finish your supper and he might go for it. Your mom will tell you, “Be safe on your bike and always wear a helmet.” Your dad will you build a bike jump. Moms are safe and nurturing. Dads are a little more reckless and free. I know this may seem simple but dads and moms are different because men and women are different. That is good because that’s the way God created humans – male and female – each distinct, each in His image, each completing the other, and together a mom and a dad are the perfect environment for a child.
It is that one word “Father” which sets Christian prayer (and the Christian faith) apart from every other religion. When you pray, you do not need to go in fear like some lowly mortal appearing before the Almighty God of heaven and earth. Your prayers do not need to be filled with bargains or plea deals like you’re dealing with a politician or a prosecuting attorney. Most of the time when you wanted something from your dad you just straight up asked him, “Dad, can I get a motorcycle?” Oh, that’s the other thing about dads – usually you didn’t ask your dad for the necessities of life. Dad, can you make sure the air conditioning is tuned for the summer and I have a bed in my room. You didn’t ask for the necessities of life – you asked for peanut M&Ms, a trip to Dairy Queen, and a new baseball glove.
It all boils down to this – that man is your father and that’s what kids expect from their dads. In the smallest, weakest, dimmest way your dad, with all his faults and foibles and foolishness, reflected the perfect Father, the first person of the Holy Trinity, the One from whom all fatherhood is known.
So Jesus speaks this wonderful promise in today’s Gospel, (read vs. 23 b). Now before you think Jesus just gave you the winning Powerball ticket and you have unlimited funds to indulge yourself listen carefully to what Jesus is saying. (Reread vs. 23-24)
Jesus makes it clear that something is about to change between the disciples and Jesus and the Father. That big change is the cross. These words form the end of John 16. In John 18 Jesus will be arrested. In John 19 He will be crucified, dead, and buried. In John 20 Jesus will be alive again and He will say this to Mary Magdalene when they meet. (Read John 20:17)
All of this hangs together and lives together and prays together. You cannot separate praying to God your Father from the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus.
God is your loving Father. There is only one way to know, trust, and pray in that love. He loved you in this way. He gave His Son to die for you. He put His love in human flesh and blood. He commanded His Son to become you, not just a human, but a sinner, and not just any sinner, but every sinner. Jesus became sin for you – He became the sinner named Bruce Alan Timm. He became your sin and then He took your punishment.
This is God’s love. God made Jesus who had no sin to be sin for you – that you might be righteous in God’s eyes – good, holy, lovely. In Christ you’re all cleaned up. Now you can be adopted. Now you’re welcome into God’s house – not as a servant or subject, but as a son, like Jesus.
That love is why you can ask the Father for anything in the name of Jesus, and He will give it to you. Does that mean you could pray for mansion on the river or a brand-new truck or a husband who is easy on the eyes? Sure, children ask for foolish things all the time. The Father will give you everything you ask for in the name of Jesus.
If a mansion on the river furthers the name of Jesus in your faith and in God’s plan of salvation, you’ll get it. If a brand-new truck glorifies the name of Jesus and strengthens you to love your neighbor, you’ll be driving one soon. If a good-looking husband is going to be the husband who helps you be a god-pleasing wife and will lead your household in the faith, then don’t bother with the dating sights. God will take care of it.
You pray because of Jesus. He’s the only way you can call God Father. You pray for Jesus, because at the end of the day and at the end of your earthly life Jesus is all you need. You pray in Jesus. By His death and resurrection, given you in Baptism, you are in Christ, and He is in you. Whatever you ask is filtered and purified through Christ so that when it reaches the Father’s ears He always says “Yes” to the prayers of His children. Your Father has given Jesus to you and Jesus for you, and He will give you whatever goes along with keeping Jesus in you and you in Jesus.
God might give you a mansion on the river or He might give you a foreclosure. He might give you a big truck or your transmission might go out on vacation. He might give you tall, dark, and handsome or short, pudgy, and cranky. But this you can trust. He will give you everything you ask for in the name of Jesus.
God doesn’t need your prayers. You do. Your faith needs to pray. If you believe Christ died for your sins and rose again, if you are baptized into that death and resurrection, then you are a child of God and children ask their fathers for all sorts of things all the time. How often isn’t a father’s heart moved by his child’s request? Why? Because the child asked, and the father loves. There’s nothing more joyous for a father than to be asked, “Dad, can you help me?” That’s a child being a child. That’s where God loves us to be.
Rogate. That’s an imperative, 2nd person plural. Pray, you. Pray, you all. All of you, pray. Pray boldly and confidently like children ask their dad, knowing this – whatever you ask your Father in heaven, He will give you in the name of Jesus. Amen.