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Our most recent family pic with only Andrew missing

Friday, May 16, 2014

Easter 5: REALLY...Ask for anything in Your name and You'll do it?


The fifth Sunday of Easter has us looking at John 14:1–14 which is a whole gold mine full of precious nuggets from the very lips of Jesus.

 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” 

Here we have one of the 365 times that this “command” appears in the Scriptures.  Some translations have, “Do not be afraid”, others, “Fear not.”  Someone (Philip Yancey) has said it appears one time for each day of the year, because each day we are faced with the temptation to fear.

And Jesus here seems to give an antidote to fear, which is believe in God and believe also in Jesus – belief/faith can drive out all fear.

But..... I don’t want to focus on that nugget today. 

My Father’s house has many rooms 

Older translations have, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.
There are not many verses in Scripture where I can remember exactly where I was when I first heard the verse.  This is one of them......it was about 2pm on a Friday afternoon in May 1971, I was 11 years old and we were at our family cemetery on Bethany Farm on the banks of the Tugela River at my Grandmother’s funeral.
The minister read this reading and, standing at the graveside, I heard the words, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” and it just blew my mind – a house......with mansions in it....in fact with many mansions in it.  That was my first real taste of the mystery that is our God and, as you can see, I remember it vividly.

But .....I don’t want to focus on that nugget today. 

…..if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 

It was only years later that I really began to understand what Jesus was really saying with these words.  They are part of the engagement liturgy in Judaism at the time of Jesus.  Once the two fathers had negotiated the marriage contract, the son (groom) would say to his bride-to-be: “Now I’m going back to my father’s house.  My father’s house has many rooms, and I’m going to prepare a place for you, I’m going to add a few more rooms to our already extended family home, and when I've got it ready I will come back and get you, so that where I am, you can be also.”  And he would go back to his father’s house, and earn money (it could take until after the harvest or a few harvests) and build and when it was ready he would go to the bride’s village, and the marriage would take place and then he would take her to be with him.

It’s a beautiful picture of the relationship between you ...... and Jesus, but...... I don’t want to focus on that nugget today. 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life." 

There are at least 3 full sermons in these few words.  Last week, we looked a little at “the life” that Jesus is, in us and for us......you might remember “cup runneth over life, abundant life, life to the full” is the life that is ours in Christ.

But.....I don’t want to mine these nuggets today either. 

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

That......is just amazing.  Believers (you and I) will do the works I have been doing says Jesus!!!???  Perhaps we need to stop right here and confess and repent......and we would, but I don’t want to mine this nugget either today. 
In fact, Jesus goes on: “They (you and I) will do even greater things than the things I have done.”  Really?......do you think Jesus meant this?

But,as I’ve said, I don’t want to mine this particular part of the gold mine which is John 14......but I encourage you to do some mining at home this week.

No......here’s my text for this Sunday, here’s the nugget I do want to lift up and hold before you in all its raw beauty today: 

 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.


That is......pure gold.


That is ......perfect diamond.

That is......the pearl of great value that Jesus says you’ll sell everything for just to possess it.


After Jesus has gone to the Father (and that is the age we now live in) those who have faith in Him will be able to ask for anything from Jesus and in His Name.  Not only will believers receive what they ask for, they will also be able to do the same or even greater things than Jesus did, so that the Father will be glorified by what believers do.

But we must notice that our privilege of asking for anything is limited by the twice repeated qualification: “in my name.”  Asking for something in another person’s name assumes that there is a close relationship between the one asking and the one in whose name it is asked.  It also assumes that the thing asked for will be used to further the interests of the one whose name is used to get it.

Jesus’ words “I will do it” are a promise that believers will receive whatever they ask in this way.

This is the truth of the matter regarding our prayers in Jesus name, spoken by the One who a little earlier has said: “I am the way, THE TRUTH and the life.


Friends, this truth can only change the way we pray, which in turn can only change the way we feel when we have prayed in this way.

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

I want to close with a story that highlights this truth.


In that cemetery where I first heard, “In my father’s house are many mansions” is buried my great, great grandmother, Caroline Nielson, with her husband Daniel.  They left Norway and arrived in Durban in 1860 to work in the Norwegian Mission in Zululand.  Their first child, a daughter, they named Sofia.  Their second......Katrine.
Caroline records in her diary that they longed for a son, for no reason other than, in an age where only men could become ministers or missionaries, they longed to have a son to carry on the work of preaching the Gospel.  And she prayed, and she prayed, no doubt in Jesus’ name and clinging to the promise in our text verse for today.  
And their third child arrived, and they called her Dina Paulina.
And she prayed and she prayed in Jesus' name for a son and their fourth child arrived and they named her Lina (she became my great grandmother.)
And she prayed and she prayed in Jesus' name for a son and their fifth child arrived and they named her Jacobina.
And she prayed and she prayed in Jesus' name for a son and their sixth child arrived and they named her Ingeborg.
And she prayed and she prayed in Jesus' name for a son  and their seventh child arrived and they named her Joakima.
And she prayed and she prayed in Jesus' name for a son and their eighth child arrived and they named her Malla.
And she prayed and she prayed in Jesus' name for a son and their ninth child arrived and they named her Keta.
And she prayed and she prayed  in Jesus' name for a son and their tenth child arrived and they named her Karen.

No sons to carry on the mission work of preaching the gospel!

On their tombstone is written the faith by which they lived and died:
God is alive
    Jesus is my all
 I am nothing

Were her prayers in Jesus' name answered?


Her desire was for sons who would preach the Gospel and mission the world.......but no sons were given here......10 daughters, 7 of whom survived childhood and were married.  7 very fertile daughters who married either farmers or missionaries.

This is what her family tree looked like in 1960, 100 years after their arrival as missionaries in Africa......I was the last twig to be added as this tree was drawn just after my birth.  And in that tree were 17 ordained ministers and missionaries and several more local preachers, just among her grandchildren.  Now, 54 years on, the number of ordained men and, praise God, women, in her direct line numbers over 70 – and how many local  preachers (like my grandfather Sam and my own son Stuart) – nobody knows.

Was her faithful prayer in the name of Jesus answered? Did God give her sons to carry on the work?
Does any prayer, properly prayed in Jesus' name go unanswered?

Take heart and hear the Good News today:

I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.





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