Ask of Me
The upper room: Jesus has the eleven remaining disciples. He is letting them know His hour has come, the time of His departure is near. And though they don't understand that, and even object to that concept...Peter's saying, "Lord, I'll lay down my life for You"...Jesus instructs them.
He begins instructing them in this last phase, early in the evening, by demonstrating to them evangelism through service. He washes their feet. And in washing their feet, He is showing them what He then will say is what He wants them to do one to another. Not just the literal washing of the feet, but the act of humble service, the act of submitting yourself to what was in that society the lowest level of service.
Today, what might be someone who would clean your toilet was someone who would wash your feet. A servant's role. And Jesus is saying, "What you're going to need to do, the mindset is going to need to be where you take your pride and your position, and you cast them aside in order for our kingdom to grow.
And then He begins to talk to them about one commandment, one new commandment. Not necessarily the commandment itself was new, but what made it new was the demonstration of that commandment in the very life of Jesus. He said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you."
In the upper room, He, in very briefly recorded statements, is laying out the future of the Church. He is laying out the future of genuine Christianity...a Christianity that sees itself in service, sees itself in love. Jesus, in our passage today, in John 14, beginning in verse 7, He continues that context as He is showing His disciples that what He has been doing is nothing really compared to what they're going to be able to do, and that the key to doing the great things is to ask Him...to ask Him.
In John 14:7, it says Jesus says, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." The question that is always in our mind is, Show us the Father. We want to know what the Father looks like. That is what Moses asked. That is what Isaiah got to see.
And so in verse 8, "Philip said to Him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.'" That word for show, the Greek word can also be not just to visibly see, but to explain, to describe, to unveil the mystery of the Father. "Do that for us. Let us see Him." Philip...who was not on the Mount of Transfiguration if you'll remember...but he wants to see visibly. He wants this physical proof, and he says, "That is sufficient. That will satisfy our curiosity."
And Jesus responds, "O Philip." He said to him in verse 9, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves."
Jesus says, "If you've seen Me, Philip, you have seen the Father entirely. You've seen visibly what the Father looks like. And more that that, you've seen the Father's heart. You've seen the Father's will. You've heard the Father's words. The words that I speak, these are not My own words. These are the words of the Father. And the reason it is so is because the Father is in Me, and I am in the Father."
Now what does the Bible tell us happens to us when we're saved? The Bible tells us, among other things, that the Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell in us. And we believe that the Holy Spirit is God. Just as the Father is God, and the Son is God, the Spirit is God. And so Jesus says...now listen..."I do the works of Him who sent Me. I speak the words of Him who sent Me. I represent God to you. If you have seen Me, if you have heard Me, if you have watched Me, you have seen the Father because the Father is in Me."
Today, Philip comes up to you, Christian, and he says to you, "I tell you what, I'll believe in your God if you'll show Him to me...if you show Him to me." And what should our response be? Well I know it isn't because we don't live like we should maybe, but it should be, "If you've seen me, you've seen the Father. I have the Holy Spirit of God living within inside me, so the works I do, the decisions I make, the jokes I tell, the prayers I say, the very acts I commit in daily life, these are not mine. These are the Father's because I am sold out to Him. He, not me...I have died to self. But the life I now live I live by the power of the Spirit of God, and He does His works in me. If you want to see God, watch me!"
Now when I say that, our first inclination is, Whoa! That's bold. That's brash. That's too much. But that is only because we have so lowered our standards. We've accepted somehow that we are so far inferior that we don't even need to try. Indeed, God is great, God is holy, God is above all, but Jesus says, the Bible says that we're to imitate Christ. In fact, Paul says, "We have the mind of Christ." We are to conduct ourselves in this world in such a way that when people see our conduct, they see God at work...they see God at work.
When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, that was God at work in front of the disciples. He was showing them the heart and the will of God. My friends, that is what you need to understand today. The only God who people are going to see is you, if you can understand what I'm saying. When you serve your neighbor, when you serve and love a stranger, when you commit these acts of good works to undeserving people, you are doing the will of God for them, and you are demonstrating the will of God for them.
We live in a postmodern age, an age that immediately replaced the modernist age. And I'm so old now that I...I'm not quite as old as Robert...but I'm getting close to his age now. And I've lived in both ages. The modernist was the person who said, "Prove it. Prove God to me. You say God exists, well, prove it. I need some proof!" See, that is what the modernist thought. The modernist is scientific in his thinking or her thinking, and they want everything, you know, seeing is believing.
But we don't live in that age anymore. And the people who are old and cranky like me, we've made our decisions by and large. There are still those who will be saved, praise God! But the people whom we ought to be focusing on, the people whom we ought to be reaching out to are the younger generation because there are far more of them who are unchurched, far more of them who have questions, far more of them who've not made that life decision.
I get criticized because I don't share my vision. Well part of my vision is that the church ought to reach young people...young people. Not just teenagers, but teenagers through twenty-somethings because these people are making life-changing decisions. I don't want, and am not part of, and don't participate in a Christian social club where we just kind of hang around. I think we ought to be soldiers out there against the enemy. And I will tell you the enemy knows who to attack. They know who to get. And that is the minds of young people.
And young people today, young adults today, are postmodern. They're not modernist. You see, their question is not, "Can you prove it?" Their question is, "Can you live it?" That is what they want to see. They want to see, "Okay, you believe in God? Show me. Show me. Let me see you serve. Let me see you make your decisions based on faith. Let me see you trust in God when things are difficult in your life. Let me see that you live on Monday like you talked about on Sunday."
We need to reach a generation that we can serve, and through service, through reaching, through living out our faith! We have to do more than just explain God. We have to be the very essence of God to a lost and dying world! We have to become people who will gather together and go out and do acts of service in our communities, not because that replaces witnessing, but because it enables us to witness. It enables us to speak to someone.
A lot of groups...and I'll tell you, young people are very good at doing this. The young people who have received Christ as Savior, they go out, and they'll do things like have free car washes. They won't take any money, not to take any money, but simply as an act of service. And so often through that effort, people in this postmodern world begin to listen. Why are you doing this for free? They're seeing them serve. They're not just hearing them talk on their front porch that you ought to love God and love one another. They see it first.
Now the witnessing still has to come. You're only saved by hearing the Word of God, okay? But it is through service that we can reach this postmodern culture. And I long for us to grab a hold of that, and to put our position and our pride on the shelf, to no longer see church as a place where we just gather among friends, and just take care of each other, but we begin to reach out to a lost and dying world, and we serve them!
I know of groups that go door to door handing out light bulbs. Just giving light bulbs to people. People who will take $20 worth of quarters, and go to the Laundromat, and just pay for everybody's laundry, just to show what it's like.
And that is what Jesus is doing, my friend. This is where they get the idea. They get the idea because they see Jesus demonstrating this. They get this idea because they see the early church in Acts 2 doing this exact thing. Caring for one another, breaking bread, going from house to house every day, and people being impressed by their giving.
And that is what Jesus is showing. And that is why He is telling Philip, "You've seen Me wash your feet. You've seen Me say the words that I've said. You've seen Me humble Myself. You've seen the Father. You've seen Him."
He says in verse 11 again, "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves." Jesus so lived His life that His life witnessed who He was. It didn't backbite, it didn't talk, it didn't form gossip groups, it wasn't a life of negativity, but it was a life of giving of self. And He said, "If you don't believe the words, let the works speak for themselves."
How many of us are afraid to witness, afraid to share, because we might not know the words to say? But can we take this verse, and claim it as our own, and say, "I may not have the words, but I'll show you Jesus by my works"? I think a guy named James said that. He said, "You show me faith without works, but I'll show you my faith by my works." And Jesus said, "My whole life should have demonstrated to you that I am from God, and that God is in Me."
In verse 12, He said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also..." and notice this, "...and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father." Now that is a big statement. Jesus fed 5,000 with a boy's lunch. Jesus brought Lazarus back after being dead for four days and stinking. Jesus walked on the water. Jesus did incredible works, and either Jesus is lying here, or He is not. And He says, "The works that I do, you will do, and greater works you will do."
What could be greater? You see, we focus on the miracles of Jesus. In fact, some religions even claim to be able to replicate the miracles of Jesus, and that is how they're trying to sell themselves as being of God that they can do these miracles. But notice what Jesus says. He says, "Greater miracles, greater works you'll do." And what is it? What is the key that allows the disciples and allows us, by the way, to do works that are greater than Jesus?
Well Jesus tells us. He says, "Because I go to My Father." So what works are greater that are only achievable because He goes to His Father? Well we need to understand a few things. One, when Jesus was walking on the earth, He was self-limited. He came in human form and took on the form of a servant Philippians tells us. So He set aside His glory, "That glory" that in John 17:5, He'll pray to the Father, "that I had before the world began." And He is praying that He is going to go back and resume that stance of glory. But He set that aside.
When Jesus goes back, when He goes to the Father, He puts back on that full, complete mantle of God...the power, the glory, the ability, the authority. He will be enabled in full to do whatever we'll find out is asked of Him because He goes to the Father.
But even more so, because He goes to the Father means He goes to the Cross. Because He goes to the Cross means He goes to the tomb. And because of that, He is resurrected. And because of that, Romans 4 tells us that that proves His sacrifice on the Cross was sufficient. And so His going to the Father means that proclaiming His news can bring salvation to people.
Now it might be disappointing to you if you live in the flesh to hear this, but the greater works are the works of salvation. The greater works that the disciples will do is not parting the water, not doing these physical things, but it will be taking a lost soul, and showing them Christ, and seeing new birth take place. It will be seeing them born from heaven, seeing that dead spirit come to life, seeing that old man die to self and that new man rise in its place. The greater works that occur because Jesus goes to the Father is salvation.
And that is exactly the will of God! That is the purpose of God! And that is the whole purpose of everything that Christ did! All of the physical miracles pointed to this. They were all signs, symbolic notions of a reality that is far greater, a water where you never thirst again, food that you know not of. All of these physical miracles simply pointed to a greater reality.
And now we are participants in those greater works. We can perform works greater than Jesus performed in His ministry. And we see it immediately. Jesus ministered in Jerusalem, in Palestine. Very few...a few, yes...but very relative few people came to believe in Him, but after He goes to the Father, in the full power of the Spirit who is about to be announced in John in the next chapter.
What happens? The disciples, empowered by the Spirit, spread the gospel to Europe. They spread it. Thousands come to salvation in a single day! These are the greater works, my friend. If you're here because you want better finances, you want a bigger house, you want an extra car, you want this, you want that, and salvation of your friends and your community is not high on your list, you are at odds with the will of God because God wants soldiers...soldiers who will put aside their preferences, and reach a lost and dying world...soldiers, like Jesus, who know it was not right, taboo, to speak to a Samaritan woman, thought bringing her salvation was far greater.
So Jesus says in verse 13, after He says you'll do greater works, He says, "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." Verse 14: "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."
"I'm going to the Father, but actually that is to your benefit because now you can pray to Me. I'm no longer limited by the mantle of human flesh. And whatever you ask in My name, I'll do it." Now you're thinking, Okay, now I get to ask for the new car, the bigger house. Yeah, but John tells us...the same John...in 1 John 5, in verse 14, he says, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."
We ask according to His will, and when we ask according to His will, there is one thing we know...we have it. He gives us our petitions that are according to His will. Jesus said, "Anything you ask, I will do it." John qualifies it for our selfish hearts. Anything that we ask that is according to the will of God."
Well what is according to the will of God? It's certainly going to point to Christ. It's certainly going to be what Christ came to do. And, my friends, it is to bring about the salvation of the nations. It's to bring about the salvation of your family. To bring about the salvation of the neighborhood you find yourself in. The school you find yourself in. The job you find yourself in. To do the will of God is to pray, "God, give me the power, give me the words, give me the service to reach this people group, to reach out to these people. I want to see Your will done. I want to see salvation spread. So I am asking You to give me the nations."
That is exactly what the psalmist says in Psalm 2. Psalm 2 is a very messianic Psalm. It points to Jesus though it's written by David and deals with David's life. Back in verse 7 of Psalm 2, it says, "I will declare the decree..." And here is the decree, "...The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.'"
Now, both God is speaking to David, but also we know that these are the words that God speaks concerning Jesus. So what we have in Psalm 2 is a conversation between God and Jesus. And here now is God the Father speaking to Jesus in verse 8, and He says, "Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession."
What prayer do we know God wants to answer in our life? It's to pray for the salvation of people.
Transcribed by Digital Sermon Transcription