July 9, 2018
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. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
While we began the series on prayer with the Old Testament, we chose to begin with the Ascension of Jesus Christ. It will also serve as our beginning point for this New Testament prayer series.
Today’s text offers a treasure trove of revelation for reflection. Let’s focus around these seven words today and come back to the rest of the text later in the series.
because I am going to the Father.
Why did the Ascension matter so much to the early Christians and so little to us? Over the centuries, the Church has tended to place the emphasis on one of two events. Many of us have been involved in the part of the Church that centers everything around Word of God and more particularly the Death and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Others of us have participated in the part of the Church that centers everything around the Day of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Neither side would deny the importance of the other. They focus differently. The challenge comes with the way focus can become over-emphasis, and the problem with over-emphasis is it necessarily creates under-emphasis. Here’s the tendency history shows us. Over emphasis on the Word leads to under emphasis on the Spirit. Over emphasis on the Spirit leads to under emphasis on the Word.
Our modern sensibilities lead us to seek some kind of balance between the two. The problem with balance is it always leads to tension. These two great verities of our faith, Word and Spirit, do not exist in tension. They live in perfect union, in the person of Jesus Christ.
In Jesus Christ we see what the perfect union of the Word of God and the Spirit of God looks like in a human being. He dwells in the heavenly realm as a human being, in a post-resurrection body, presiding as the Lord of Heaven and Earth.
Why must we recover the centrality of the Ascension of Jesus Christ? Because Jesus Christ is now ascended. It is the present and future reality. His death and resurrection are facts of history. Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is a fact of history. The present state of affairs, which will extend into all eternity is this: Jesus Christ is the Lord of Heaven and Earth—ruling the Cosmos—at the right hand of the throne of God, right here, right now.
So “because I am going to the Father. . .” now what?
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.
Here is where the New Testament of prayer comes into play.
13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Go back over those words very slowly, carefully and with great deliberation. It will be the shaping force of our curriculum going forward.
So did Jesus get it wrong, or have we missed the point?
Almighty, Ascended Lord Jesus Christ, you are right here, right now. We hear you say we will do greater things than you, because you go to the Father. Help us understand why we aren’t doing those greater things. Teach us, Lord. Right here, Jesus. Right now, Jesus. Amen.
- What is your level of understanding and appreciation of the significance of the Ascension of Jesus?
- Why do you think we are not doing the “greater things” Jesus said we would do? Did he get it wrong? Or have we missed the point?
- Have you tended to err on overemphasizing the Word or the Spirit in your faith? Do you see how a restored focus on the ascended Lord Jesus Christ could change things?
Join the Daily Text Fasting Challenge here. Whenever you sign up, it will begin the following Tuesday.
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.