Saturday, May 25, 2019

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Rogate (Easter 6) Prayer

John 16:23-30
23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
25 “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. 28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”
29 His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! 30 Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.”


Luther's Notes

23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 
whatever you ask the Father in My name In this text Christ shows us the defense against the hindrances and stumbling blocks of the devil and our flesh, that would draw us away from prayer. First, that we think by the devil's instigation: O, you are not yet qualified to pray ; wait awhile, till you are better qualified. Secondly, such thoughts also naturally arise: How can you pray to God ? You are too unworthy. In the third place, the devil comes with a thrust and suggests doubts to you, whether God will hear your prayer. On the other hand Christ shows in the text how we may resist such stumbling blocks. Here you have first the command, in which he tells them to pray, and reproves them also, for not having prayed hitherto. It is not said here that you should ask whether you are worthy or unworthy, but it is your duty to obey God.

In the second place, look also on the promise, which he confirms and strengthens with a double oath: Verily, verily, he will give it unto you, as if he would say, God is ready to give sooner and more than you ask; yea, he offers his goods, if we will only accept them. Is it not an eternal shame before God and all the world, that Christ must so solemnly swear, and yet we do not believe it, nor let it move us at once to begin heartily to pray?

To such a promise, in order that our prayer may be acceptable, belongs faith. See James 1:5, 6 ; 1 John 5:14 f.

But some say, I would fain trust that my prayer would be heard, if I were worthy and could do it well. Answer : Even thereby we become worthy to pray and to be heard, be cause we believe we are unworthy, and trust comfortably on God's faithfulness.

In the fourth place, we must ask something and present it to God for which we pray. Christ means this with the words: "Whatever ye shall ask;" whatever; that is, what you need. He himself explains this some what, and says, "that your joy may be full;" that is, pray for all necessaries, till you have obtained all entirely, and have fullness of joy.

Fifthly, we must also desire or wish that it may be done, which is nothing else than to ask, as Christ says, "ask." Others have called this the ascent of the soul to God (Rom. 8:26,"groaning.") Tribulations produce such groaning.

Sixthly, we must ask "in the name of Christ"; this is nothing else, than that we come before God in faith on Christ, and console ourselves with good confidence, that he is our Mediator. This is true prayer in the name of Christ, when we thus trust in him, that we shall be accepted and heard for his sake. This is the main article and foundation upon which prayer must stand and rest.

24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Ask, and you will receive. Of such prayer and name they know nothing yet; they imagined that as long as Christ was with them, they would need nothing. But with the prayer in his name, he wishes to indicate the difference between the Old and the New Testament, and between his precursors and his advent or present government. The dear fathers and prophets had also formerly prayed in the true spirit, but yet only to the coming Christ.

 Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. He speaks here with his Christians (for the others can and shall not pray,) who desire nothing higher than the name, kingdom and will of God, and have no greater joy than to see this come to pass. Those who pray falsely seek only their own.
25 “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. 

but I will tell you plainly about the Father. We see that the dear Lord wished to speak with the disciples in the last hour and did not like to leave them in their sadness. Therefore he uses so many words. When he says "these things" he means what he has said before, "a little while," etc., (vs. 16, 21) for those were proverbs, that is, dark, mysterious sayings which they did not comprehend. "but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father." That is, I will very plainly explain and freely speak to you through the Holy Ghost of my Father, that ye shall under stand what the Father is, and what my going to the Father is; you will finely see how through suffering I ascend to the kingdom of the Father, (Luke 24:27). The "showing of the Father" is not to be understood, that he shall speak much to us of the divine nature, as the Sophists imagine; for that is fruitless and incomprehensible; but how he goes to the Father; that is, how he shall assume the kingdom and government of the Father.

 26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. 

In that day you will ask in My name. He says, You shall not only have reason to ask in many kinds of distresses, but you shall also know and understand what my name is and how you shall regard me; then the asking will come of itself. According to Joel 3:1, and Zech. 12:10 two things are promised to Christendom: the spirit of grace and prayer.

The Father himself loves you. True it is, Christ ceaseth not to pray for us; he sitteth at the right hand of the Father and intercedeth for us, as St. Paul says. But Christ says, Ye need not such prayer; for ye your selves can ask the Father. How then? Will he not be Mediator? shall we not ask in his "name?" Shall we come to the Father through ourselves? Answer: There is one thing connected with it, which you must also take along and draw both together. For thus he says: " The Father loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from God." For he will not so get out of the way, that they should pray without or outside of him. But when we have this Mediator in our hearts and believe that he came from God, to take away our sin and death, then we also can pray ourselves and such prayer is accept able to God for the sake of this name, that stands between the Father and us.

Here he himself explains how it must come about, when one would pray in his name: He says: "You love me, and believe that I came out from God." That is, you know me and love me; thereby you have me and my name, and you are in me and I in you. This faith in him brings us also to the Father and so every thing goes in his name. Here we are sure that Christ need not pray for us, for he has already asked for us (which prayer he made once, but which continues eternally and causes our prayer also to please him and be heard of him;) and we may now ourselves come through Christ and pray. Therefore he says, "The Father loves you." It is not your reason, but his love, He loves you; but for my sake, because ye love me and believe on me; that is, he sees my name in you.

Here in verses twenty-seven and twenty-eight we also see that to believe on Christ does not mean to believe that Christ is a person, who is God and man, for this would help no man; but the same person is Christ; that is, for our sake he "came out from God," came into the world and again leaves the world and goes to the Father. That is to say: This is Christ, who for us became man, died, rose again and is ascended to heaven; on account of such office he is called Jesus Christ ; and to believe this of him, that it is true, means to be and continue in his name.
28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.” 29 His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! 30 Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.”
Again, I leave the world and go to the Father. To express what this means, to go to the Father, he says: I leave the world. The disciples now begin to understand in some measure. Therefore they looked upon him and said:

See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! They do this like good, pious children of Christ, as they understood it, and say it in love to him, just as good, simple people sometimes act as though they under stood it, though they are yet far from it; and yet this is done in simplicity without hypocrisy. Therefore they continue and say, "Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God." That is, We need not ask thee; for thou dost anticipate the answer, as one who sees the secrets of every heart and knows where we are lacking in our understanding.



Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 370-372

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