~ Rogate ~
Holy Baptism of Maria Regina Cleveland
Readings: Numbers 21:4-9 | James 1:22-27 | John 16:23-33
Text: John 16:23-33
The name for this Sunday, Rogate, derives its name from the Gospel lesson, instead of first word of the Introit. Rogate in Latin means, “Ask (all of you), and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24) In this part of John, Jesus is preparing His disciples for the time of His ascension and visible departure from them.
Really, this is all we’ve ever known as Christians. We are the ones about whom our Lord says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29) But the only way that we, nearly two millennia later, can receive such a blessing, is because Jesus has ascended to the right hand of the Father, to fill all things (Eph. 4:10). He has sent us the promise of His Father, the Holy Spirit, who has worked faith even in us, who heard the Word, and received it, “not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” (1 Thess. 2:13)
What our Lord Jesus is teaching us here though, is about prayer: “In that day, you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you…Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” That is to say,
IN THE DAY OF THE JOY OF THE RESURRECTION, THE CHURCH IS CONSTANTLY AT PRAYER.
I. When we think about prayer, we often think about the action of it—the folded hands, being on the knees, the certain words we say. But what does the Lord in the flesh actually teach us about prayer?
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give it to you”
1. The main thing of prayer does not start with us. Prayer is inspired and empowered by God.
a. We can misunderstand what Jesus says– whatever you ask the Father in my name—thinking of God has our “heavenly grandpa” who gives us whatever we want because we know how to melt His heart. Some think of “in Jesus Name” like a magic formula which unlocks whatever we want to happen. But that’s far from what “in Jesus’ Name” means.
b. Prayer through Christ is so much different. It is not self-centered, because it is not our old sinful flesh demanding. It is the new man in each of us, being conformed to God’s way.
i. Today’s Collect summed this up: O God, the giver of all that is good, by Your holy inspiration grant that we may think those things that are right and by Your merciful guiding accomplish them; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
c. Prayer is not a method to manipulate the Almighty to kowtow to our wishes. He refuses to be our genie in a bottle. Rather, in this asking in the Name of Jesus, we have been formed and are being formed into those who ask for the right things.
2. Prayer “in the Name of Jesus” is asking according to our new birth.
a. In Jesus’ Name is what we are in our Baptism. We have received the holy Name of God—the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It’s a sacred mystery of faith is that God doesn’t only forbid misuse of His name (taking it in vain), but through the Son of God, He has given us the access of sons and daughters.
b. Because we are God’s children, born again to a living hope, living together in that hope, we can’t help but ask. In the day of the joy of the resurrection, the Church is constantly at prayer.
II. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
1.This is a gift which none of us could claim for ourselves, unless we were unimaginably haughty. To God’s face, who would be so haughty as to claim that they were a child of God and deserving of such benefits?
2. But we receive this status as a gift, that’s how we come to know our God and Father. It doesn’t come automatically like a download of information. It comes through experience.
3. The disciples would soon face their own weakness, and learn what it means to know how to call upon the Father as dear children.
III. 29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
1.The disciples we so sure they had mastered the lesson Jesus had for them. They were ready for a kind of graduation, but they were naïve.
2. It was painful experience which taught them how much they must rely on Him. We’re often not aware of this weakness until it humbles us. The Church, with Peter, John, James, and all the rest of the Apostles, was not ready for the crucifixion and resurrection. It was not ready for the coming persecution, for the writing of Scriptures, and the martyrdom.
3. What can such an incapable people do, but pray? Go to the very Father who created all things and upholds them. We are weak, but He is Almighty. We are powerless, but “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to [Him]” (Matt. 28:19).
Finally, this means that prayer is a thoroughly natural thing for the Christian. In our new creation, we are constantly praying. The world says, “You are in our thoughts and prayers” which is ultimately powerless. What can your thoughts do? But the thoughts of a Christian, because we belong to Christ, the Holy One, are prayers because they can’t help but bring these impossible things to the Almighty, not on the basis of our actions, but according to His own. In the day of the joy of the resurrection, the Church, with all her members, is constantly at prayer.
So, let us pray: O God, the giver of all that is good, by Your holy inspiration grant that we may think those things that are right and by Your merciful guiding accomplish them. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.