The night before His crucifixion, Christ is seeking to comfort the disciples with some profound truths.
· As He does so, He reveals a number of privileges that are available only to the “whoever believes”.
· In other words, He describes for us some of the things that set believers apart from everyone else.
· Even the “self-actualized, Oprah-loving, God-believing, non-judgmental, ‘good person’”
As we go forward, it is critical that we remember (as we learned last week) the importance of the “spiritualness” over the “physicalness” side of doing and reality.
· It is clear, that Jesus valued the first over the second.
· When He spoke and taught, this truth undergirded His propositions (as we will see again).
This priority for Jesus also reminds us how mind boggling this tension between the spiritual and the physical is.
· We can’t see the spiritual or test it in a lab.
· In fact, embracing the truth of a spiritual world, and its priority over the physical world, might be one of the biggest hang-ups of post-modern, western civilization.
· Yet, the very truth of Jesus’ words, and our ability to rightly understand them, rests on the truth of the spiritual world.
In our text today, we will contend with the first of three privileges that distinguish the Christian from the non-Christian.
· The first is that for the believer, Jesus “will do” “whatever you ask”.
1) JESUS’ WHATEVER
John 14:13–14 (ESV) — 13Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
As with last week’s text, these propositions by Jesus are incredible.
· “whatever you ask…I will do”
· “ask me anything…I will do it”
· Later He says, “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (15:7)
· And, “whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (15:16)
“What is most striking is the scope of the promise, for it is not merely that those to whom he was speaking should have the privilege of prayer, nor even that he would hear their prayers and from time to time grant what they should ask. It is that Jesus would hear their prayers and grant their requests always” – Boice.
We want so badly for “whatever” to actually mean our whatever.
· How cool would it be to ask for whatever we think we need and get it.
· This would be a great assurance of the reality of our relationship with God, wouldn’t it?
· It would certainly show who the Christians are?
· And it would be an excellent testimony of the truth and power of God, right?
· BTW – the answer to these questions is no – see last week’s lesson.
o “workers of lawlessness” would most certainly be manifesting the same “getting”.
o Satan would see to that.
o Remember, the most profound differences are not found in the physical.
So the question that begs to be answered is what does “whatever” mean?
· The answer is that it really means whatever.
· However, we will see it is Jesus’ “whatever”.
That the “whatever” is not “our whatever” is made evident by Paul:
· 2 Corinthians 12:8–10 (ESV) — 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
So to understand what “whatever” Jesus meant, we need to look at a definition.
· Jesus says of the “whatever”, “this I will do”.
· “Do” is the Greek word poieo.
· It means “to undertake or do something that brings about an event, state, or condition” – BDAG.
· Knowing this helps us frame our question more directly.
Our question becomes what is the “whatever”, that Jesus will undertake or do to bring about?
· This shows us the intimacy of the link between the “whatever” and the action of Jesus.
· In other words, we can’t divorce the “whatever” from the fact that its origin is coming from the intercession of the exalted Jesus Christ (vs. 12).
· Immediately, this frames the “whatever” as sacred and not profane – Jesus’ “whatever”.
· “To ask anything of the Father, in the name of Jesus, means that we ask what Jesus would ask, what would please Him, and what would bring Him glory by furthering His work” – Warren Wiersbe.
I suggest that the action of Jesus on our behalf is in the style of the action of the Father on Jesus’ behalf.
· Martha, Lazarus’ sister, gave us a glimpse of this in John 11:22.
· She said to Jesus, “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
· The Father gave to Jesus and in the same way Jesus, because he is at the Father’s right hand, will give to “whoever believes”.
· Now we have the context to properly answer the question.
2) JESUS’ WHATEVER QUALIFIED
To assist us in understanding the “whatever” in this context, Jesus qualifies his proposition with at least 3 things.
· (1) We have to actually ask, that is pray.
· (2) We have to do so in Jesus’ name.
· (3) And it must glorify God the Father.
Qualification 1 – “whatever you ask”:
We have to actually ask Jesus for the “whatever”.
· Making a petition to Jesus should give us pause; He isn’t Santa Claus; He is God.
In fact, Jesus gave us direction on how we are to ask.
· Matthew 6:8–13 (ESV) — 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Our asking (and life) is to be centered on God the Father’s name, kingdom and will.
· Only in this way can we ask for, and does it even make sense to ask for, “our daily bread” and spiritual victory.
· Though not excluding a “physical” meaning, it is likely that “daily bread” has a spiritual meaning behind it.
o Jesus as the bread of life.
o The bread necessary for the spiritual victory we are to be asking for.
· Whatever the case, the asking begins with and is centered on God.
Qualification 2 – “in my name”:
What does it mean to ask “in my name”?
· “God is not giving us carte blanche; ‘in My name’ is the controlling element” – Warren Wiersbe.
· “Prayers in his name are prayers that are offered in thorough accord with all that his name stands for (i.e. his name is not used as a magical incantation: cf. 1 Jn. 5:14), and in recognition that the only approach to God those who pray enjoy, their only way to God (cf. vv. 4–6), is Jesus himself” – D. A. Carson.
· “To pray in the name of Jesus is, therefore, first, to come to God as a Christian, having believed on Jesus, and, second, to come humbly, recognizing that we have no claims upon him but that Jesus himself does and that we can approach God solely on that basis” – James Boice.
· In other words, Jesus is our access to the Father; our intercessor; our high priest.
· He is “the way” to the Father (John 14:6).
· He is the Father’s Jesus.
· BTW – this means that prayer as access to God is the exclusive domain of “whoever believes”.
o God hearing/answering the prayer of the unbeliever would be an exception
Qualification 3 – “the Father maybe glorified in the Son”:
Jesus makes clear; the ultimate qualification is that the “whatever” must glorify God.
· And Jesus, and by extension us, will glorify the Father through us by doing our “whatever”.
· This was the focus of Jesus’ entire ministry (see John 5).
· The chief aim of man is to glorify God.
· This is simple enough and leads us directly to the answer to our question.
Our question was what is the “whatever” that Jesus will undertake or do to bring about?
· The answer is that the “whatever” are petitions that will glorify God.
· But Jesus’ qualifications make clear that the “whatevers” have to be rightly pursued.
3) JESUS’ WHATEVER RIGHTLY PURSUED
God’s glory is rightly pursued when we incorporate Jesus’ qualifications into our petitions or desires (the things we ask Him for):
· (1) Jesus’ is our example; He lived to glorify God.
o Jesus’ “whatever” was God the Father’s “whatever”.
o So our whatever is to be Jesus’ whatever.
o Matthew 26:42 (ESV) — 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”
· (2) They are to be centered on God’s kingdom, name and will.
o These things are not you and they are not your things, they are the Father and His things.
o “your will be done”
o “this cannot pass” – the inauguration of the kingdom through the cross
o “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content” – Paul accepting the thorn in Jesus’ name and for His sake.
· (3) They are to be petitioned through the lifted up and exalted Jesus Christ and sought in His name.
o This is the believer’s privilege.
o We are to seek the glory of God through Christ in our prayers.
BTW – There are additional qualifications.
· John 15:7 (ESV) — 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
· John 15:16 (ESV) — 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
· 1 John 3:22 (ESV) — 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
o These relate to abiding and obedience which we will get into next week.
o A second privilege of the beliver.
Biblical examples of “whatever”:
· James 1:5 (ESV) — 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
· John 4:10 (ESV) — 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
· What are some examples of legitimate whatevers we should be asking for?
Lesson for Us:
For Jesus, “whatever” really does mean “whatever”.
· This is simply because the idea of acting outside of the Father’s will and not seeking the glory of the Father are foreign to Him.
· To seek a “whatever” that doesn’t glorify God and is outside of God’s will is simply not a “whatever”.
· Quite frankly, it is idolatry.
The fact that we can glorify God as discussed also necessitates that we re-evaluate our prayer life.
· We too often think of prayer as primarily getting something from God.
· But something should be very clear to us, this was not Jesus’ “whatever” or His example.
· His purpose was to glorify the Father.
· This is incredibly important to realize.
· “Prayer is actually a means by which God gets something from us” – James Boice.
· And this something is His glory.
· This is the privilege of the believer – to glorify God through the intercession of Jesus.
The following should be adapted to describe our relationship to Christ.
· John 5:19 (ESV) — 19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
· If we get this right, we would get “the whatever” right.