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Fifth Sunday After Easter.

Fifth Sunday After Easter.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY REV. ASHTON OXENDEN, D.D.

ST. JOHN, xvi. 23 TO END.
BY REV. ASHTON OXENDEN, D.D.

ST. JOHN, xvi. 23 TO END.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Feb 02, 2014
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FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER. BY REV. ASHTON OXENDEN, D.D.

ST. JOHN, xvi. 23 TO END.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name : ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs : but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name ; and I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you, for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world : again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee : by this we believe that thou earnest forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do ye now be lieve ? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall
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leave me alone : and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken imtu

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you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation : but be of good cheer, I have over come the world.

IN the gospel for to-day we still linger over the parting words which our Lord uttered just before His life was taken from Him.

He speaks to His disciples about Prayer.* That was a subject He had often touched upon. But He now tells them more plainly how they might be always sure to obtain a hearing from God- Verily verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Fa ther in my name, He will give it you/
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This was a large promise, but not too large ; for is there anything that God will deny His children, if they come to Him rightly? Observe, He says Whatsoever; there is no stint, no limit, nothing wanting on God s part, if not on ours. Truly this must have been a most comforting promise

* The first part of the twenty -third verse is not included in the Gospel. Our Lord had said, In that day ye shall ask me nothing. By this He meant, that they were no longer to apply to f V as they had done when He was upon earth ; but they were henceforth to lift up their eyes to heaven, feeling that they had a Father there, .and that He (the Saviour) would act as their Advocate

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to the poor sorrowing disciples. It must indeed have cheered their drooping hearts,
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and made them lift up their heads with hope.

As yet they scarcely knew that Christ was the great Mediator, and that, when in heaven, He would act, as their Advocate with the Father. Hitherto (He says) ye have asked nothing in my name. But now He tells them plainly, that whenever they shall apply to the Father in His name, they would be accepted. He therefore adds, Ask, and ye shall receive, that your ]oy may be full/ Here then was a most blessed assurance that their prayers, if thus offered, would never be in vain.

It is true, as I said just now, Jesus had often conversed with them about the duty and blessedness of prayer; but He had never spoken to them so plainly as He does now. * These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs ; (that is, I have only hinted at these things : I have spoken in a way that may have been a little difficult
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for you to understand ;) but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I will show you

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plainly of the Father. At that day (when I shall have ascended up into heaven) ye shall ask in my name : and I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you ; for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world : again I leave the world, and go to the Father/

Now, what did our Lord mean when He said, I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you V Does He not tell us elsewhere that He does pray for us ? The seventeenth chapter is full of Christ s
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prayer for His people ; and in Rom. viiL and Heb. vii. we are told distinctly that He does intercede for us. What then does He mean, when He declares in the passage before us, I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you? I think He means to assure His disciples, that they themselves are welcome at the throne of grace ; that God is their Father and their Friend, and has a willing ear to hearken to His children. There would be no need for Him to be ever using fresh entreaties to

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persuade His Father to be reconciled to them, and to accept them. On the con trary, He assures them that God already loves them, and His arms are open to re ceive them. The very fact too of His being with His Father would be enough to encourage them, and to ensure them a
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favourable hearing.

This explanation seems to have tho roughly satisfied His disciples ; for they replied, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee. By this we believe that thou earnest forth from God/

But Jesus is not so satisfied with their reply. He takes up one of their expres sions, Now we believe/ and puts home to them the inquiry, c Do ye now believe ? Is your faith in me such, that it will not easily be shaken ? Do you believe on me, and trust me, so completely, that you will be able to stand your ground when the hour of trial comes ?

Jesus knew that a searching time was at hand, and that in a few hours the weak-

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348 Fifth Sunday

ness of their faith would be proved. They fancied that they had an unflinching trust } but He tells them that an event was coming that would search them to the very quick. They now believed, as they said, that Jesus * came forth from God/ But thev would find their faith a little shaken when they should see Him seized, condemned, and crucified as a malefactor Behold, the hour cometh, yea is now come, that ye shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 7

And was it not so ? On that very night Judas betrayed Him ; and Peter, who had made the boldest profession of them all, turned away from Him, and
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denied Him. All except St. John kept at a distance, and were afraid to own them selves His followers. The shepherd was smitten, and the sheep were scattered.

Now, to have known that such would be the ease, must have filled the Saviour s heart and theirs with sadness. But He felt it right to warn them. Indeed such was always His way of dealing with them. He always told them what their trials

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would be. He concealed nothing from them. He painted everything in its true colours. And why did He act thus ? He tells us in the last verse, These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall
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have tribulation : but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world/

Let us pause for a minute or two over these words, before we close, for they are very important.

Our Lord tells His disciples that they would find peace in Him, but tribulation in the world.

Their life in the world would be one of unceasing trouble and anxiety. And so they found it. When any of them followed Christ, the world would be their enemy. Unbrlieving men would persecute and slander them, as they had persecuted their Master before them. When any of them preached the gospel, the world would revile them. When they tried to win souls, the world would throw impediments in their way. They would be hated of all men ; for His name s sake.

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If you trace the labours of the Apostles of old, or if you mark the course of any faithful disciple now, you see the truth of our Lord s words, * In the world ye shall have tribulation/

Yes, and it is well to know this. For if we expect an easy path in life, we shall only be disappointed. The true follower of Christ will be sure to meet with oppo sition. We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom. And well is it, if we do enter it after all. Well is it, if we bear in mind that we are in an enemy s country, and are content to fight our way through it, trusting in God.

But there is another side to the picture.
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It is not all dark. There is a bright side also. Our Lord is not content merely to tell us that in the world we shall have tribulation/ but He adds, I have over come the world/ The world cannot con quer you ; for I have won the battle for you. I have passed through the world. I have trodden its roughest paths. I have withstood its enticements, and surmounted its difficulties. And in my strength you may surmount them also.

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Yes, the Christian is sure to win the day at last. Trials, difficulties, dangers, may be his portion here. But he shall come out of them all a conqueror. He may say with the Apostle, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? Nay, in
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all these things we are more than con querors through him who loved us/

But this is not all. There is not only future victory, but there is present joy for the true Believer. In Christ there is peace ; peace in the humble consciousness of being pardoned and accepted ; peace in the feel ing that Jesus loves us, and that we are safe in Him ; peace in those happy paths which He bids us walk in ; peace in the persuasion that He is ever with us ; and peace in the still brighter assurance that our home will be with Him for ever.

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