“Word for Today” – John 14 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

April 3, 2009 at 4:45 am 1 comment


brownies-1One of my favorite desserts is brownies.  I love pretty much any kind of brownie, but as a general rule, the gooier and the chocolatier, the better.  That’s why, growing up, I had a special affinity for my mother’s brownies.  They were always so rich and moist.  And that’s why, right before she would pop them in the oven to bake, I would always position myself right next to my mother’s mixing bowl and spoon so that I could barter with her for a child’s most precious delight:  licking the spoon dripping with leftover brownie batter.

Now, most of the time, even if I put on my best forlorn face and most pitiful puppy dog eyes, my mother would refuse my request to lick the brownie batter off her wooden baking spoon.  But every once in a while, if she was feeling especially gracious, would say to me, “Go ahead, Zach.  But don’t be a pig!  After all, I don’t want you spoiling your supper.  You can have a brownie after the pan comes out of the oven.”

A couple of weeks ago in Adult Bible Class, I spoke on God’s strength in the midst of our weakness and how, although God does not promise to take away all of our weakness, pain, and suffering, he does promise to be with us, strengthen us, and comfort us through our trials.  Following the class, a member approached me and said, “I’m confused.  You say that God does not promise to take away all of our weakness and pain, but Jesus says, ‘I will do whatever you ask in my name.’”  So, if I ask Jesus to take away my suffering, doesn’t he have an obligation to?

The verse to which this person was referring is actually part of our text for today from John 14.  And Jesus, just to make sure we don’t miss the significance of what he’s saying, actually repeats himself.  He begins, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the son may bring glory to the Father.”  And then, in the very next verse, he continues, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (verses 13-14).  Jesus is unequivocally clear:  “You want something?  Just ask.  And I will do it.”

This sounds like a pretty astounding claim from Jesus, doesn’t it?  Whatever we ask in Jesus’ name will be given to us?  What kind of pie-in-the-sky promise is this?  After all, there are clearly some things for which we ask God that we do not receive.  So what is Jesus talking about here?

It is important to note the tense of Jesus’ promise.  It is future tense.  Hence, the verb “will.”  And, at least in a limited way, I would argue that this is still a future tense promise, even for us 2,000 years later.  In other words, Jesus makes no pledge to instantaneously gratify all of the desires that we might offer up to him in prayer.  Indeed, if our desires are bad, twisted, or maligned, the Lord even forthrightly states that he will refuse our requests.  As James warns, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may get what you spend on your pleasures” (James 4:3).  In other words, Jesus never promises to fill our request for a Ferrari, no matter how many times we may beg him.  For such a request is usually rooted in our own pleasure rather than in God’s glory.  But how can asking for the healing of a loved one or for the restoration of a marriage or for the removal of a trial possibly be a bad or selfish request?  And here’s where Jesus’ future tense “will” becomes all-important.

In a sense, Jesus’ promise to give us whatever we ask is a bit like my mother’s brownie batter.  There are many times when Jesus, out of his goodness and grace, gives us little “tastes” of his healing and restoration.  And these are indeed glorious tastes.  They are not to be belittled or minimized.  But we can’t forget that we’re still waiting for the whole pan of brownies.  We’re still waiting for the Last Day, when Jesus will finally fulfill all of his future tense promises to heal diseases, restore relationships, and wipe away all pain, suffering, and even death (cf. Revelation 21:1-4).  We’re still waiting for the whole pan of brownies – Jesus’ sweet redemption.  In fact, Jesus even warns us of the suffering that we will have to endure in the mean time when he says, “The prince of this world is coming” (verse 30).  Satan is here and, until he is finally cast into hell by God, throws his bitter arrows of sin and destruction into the sweetness of God’s goodness.  We’re still waiting for the whole pan of brownies.

And so, if you are praying for something and it has not yet happened, remember Jesus’ future tense “will.”  For his “will” is his promise.  It’s his guarantee.  The whole pan of brownies is on its way.  And if you are praying for things that are righteous – things such as healing, restoration, and comfort – they will come to pass, even if only in eternity.   Satan will fail and we will finally get the whole pan of brownies.  And to that I say, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

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Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – John 13 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – John 15 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Margie Maroney  |  April 3, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Amen to that!

    Reply

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