Let us Pray
7th Sunday in Easter
Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and His only Son, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Last Sunday we heard the word of the Lord teaching us to pray in his name. The exalted name, the name above all names, the name given all authority in heaven and on earth is the name on which we are to call for all our needs. Jesus said it. His word is trustworthy.
It is important that we pray in his name. He says:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” [John 16:23-24]
He says truly twice because it is important. You see, the Hebrew language does not have modifiers like the English language.
If we wanted to emphasize a statement, we would say something to the effect of, “Very truly” or “This is really true”. The Hebrew language just repeats the adjective in order to give it emphasis. For instance, a really tall man would be described as a, ‘Tall-tall man’. A statement that was undeniably true would be a ‘true-true’ statement.
Jesus himself is an Israelite speaking Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek. When he speaks in the Greek tongue his Hebrew syntax can be heard. This is why he says, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you.’ It is understood that what follows this emphasis is important.
We now pray in the name of Jesus Christ as he has told us to pray. Just as we ask in his name, he constantly prayed in the name of Our Father in heaven. Prayer is important; not only for us but for Our Lord as well. Jesus is consistently praying. He prays for the blind to see, the lame to walk and the sinner to be forgiven. He prays to Our Father in heaven for guidance and strength. He prays to Our Father in heaven to forgive us for crucifying him on a cross.
In the Gospel reading for this the 7th Sunday of Easter, we once more hear the words of Our Savior and Redeemer, praying for us. He prays for those in his creation who believe in that name above all names. His work is almost complete. In a few short hours, he will be taken into custody by the Roman Guard. He will be taken to the court of Pontius Pilate and he will be scourged by the whip. He will be mocked, beaten and crucified because of our sin.
Yet he does not pray to be relieved of this task. Instead, he prays for the sinner. He is perfect and one with the Father in heaven. He has no need to be forgiven of sin. He is about to pay the price of our sin; which is death. He is about to redeem every soul who calls on his name and believes in the Father who sent him. He prays for us.
My brother tells me that when people give him promises and platitudes to come to his aid if needed, he ignores them. “Everybody talks a good talk and makes promises they don’t plan to keep.” he says. “It makes them feel like they are doing something to help. But most of the time they really don’t want to do anything to help. But!” he says, “when they say they will pray for me, I can take that to the bank. I know that I will receive more help from their prayer than from their promises.”
Jesus Christ keeps his promises. He paid the price of our sin by death on the cross. He went to the tomb perfect in the Law of God to defeat the devil and death itself. For this we should continuously thank and praise his holy name; but what is even greater is his prayer for all who believe.
Christ’s prayer is this – that we all be one in faith. His prayer is that all who believe in his name become one in him and the one who sent him. “…just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us…” [John 17:21] He continues, “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” [John 17:23]
He prays that we may be one in him and the one who sent him. What a wonderful prayer! Jesus Christ wants us to be in him so that we will be perfect before Our Father in heaven. He wants us to live in his kingdom without end. He does not wish us death but life!
We believe that like baptism, Holy Communion gives forgiveness of sin and renewal in Christ. Under the bread and wine, we are forgiven, healed and renewed into the death and resurrection of Our Lord. In the Lord’s Supper, we are once again joined in him to be perfect in the eyes of God.
This is what Jesus Christ has done for you and continues to do for you through the eating and drinking of his body and blood. Not only do we become one with him but we become one in faith with each other. In him we become one body, as St. Paul says, with many members.
This is the promise of our Lord, that we:
“…may be his own and live under him in his kingdom and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity.” [Luther’s Small Catechism]
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he tells us that this is most certainly true. Because of his death on a tree formed into a cross, our death is not the end for us. By his resurrection from the grave, our life is eternal.
It is interesting that in heaven we will see another tree; not a tree of death but a tree of life. This is what St. John saw in his vision of Revelation.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lambthrough the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life…”
Here John sees our Savior at the throne of God in heaven with the water of life flowing from the throne.
This is what we hope to see. This is what has been promised to us by our living Redeemer.
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.” [Revelation 22:14]
We know who lives in the great city of New Jerusalem. We know who will make a new heaven and a new earth his home for all eternity, but we are not yet there.
The great Adversary, Satan, will do everything in his power to keep us cold and alone. He does not want us to reach the warm hearth of the house our Lord has prepared for us.
It is for this very reason that God sent His Only Son to lead us home. When we buried our Savior in the cave and sealed him in with a rock, we mourned more for our souls than for him. Thanks be to God that the grave could not hold Jesus Christ. Praise be to our Lord for being more than human and truly, truly God. It is by his power he defeated death itself. It is by his mercy and grace that his resurrection brings us all eternal life.
On Thursday last, we celebrated the Ascension of Our Lord. The disciples were grieved that their friend, teacher and Savior was returning to his father’s house. Christ made a promise to them from the Father.
“…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” [Acts 1:8]
And his promise was fulfilled. We were given the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive sin. We were given the power to baptize all people and give them the water of life without cost.
Jesus tells us:
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” [Revelation 22:12-13]
The tree of life in the Garden of Eden once grew on this earth. We know in the new heaven and the new earth that tree of life will once again grow and bear fruit. The Word will be fulfilled from the beginning to the end.
So what are we to do until that day?
We begin with our baptism that gives us the Holy Spirit. It is by his power our sin is removed. We continue with the Word of God, as it is written:
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
And we continue to be renewed with the forgiveness of sins through the body and blood of the Lamb of God.
Word and Sacrament are what clear the path to our Father’s house. “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.” [Revelation 22:12] Christ tells us. We pray for the return of our Lord, the Shepherd who leads us out of the woods and to green pastures.
We pray in hope and thanksgiving, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” [Revelation 22:17]
We pray for all who believe in Christ Jesus through the Gospel, that all of us may be one. And all who are one pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!”