Cornerstone EPC Thursday evening
Franklin, NC 28734 April 14, 2022
“Power on Earth, Power in Heaven”
Once again, we gather on the same night of the year in which our Lord Jesus was betrayed so long ago—and, once again, we find ourselves in the upper room with Jesus, and with the Eleven, as He teaches them and us. It is not long until Jesus’ goes out: to His agony and, ultimately, to His victory—a victory that is ours as well through faith in Christ. Jesus has much of great import, however, to teach His disciples before He leads them out. Let us hear a portion of that teaching as we hear the Word of God read and proclaimed once again in this place.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
Tonight’s text continues Jesus’ reply (9-21) to Philip’s request, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (8). Matthew Henry, in his monumental Commentary, gives us the two heads under which we proceed tonight. First, Jesus’ disciples shall have great power on earth (12). Our text opens, “Truly, truly, I say to you,” and this is Jesus’ usual way, especially in John’s Gospel, to introduce a solemn statement. Truly, the one believing in Jesus will do the works He does, and he will do greater works than the works He does.
Let’s understand this aright. We cannot do the works Jesus does to the degree (depth, et al.) that He does, but we can do the works Jesus does, and greater, in terms of scope. This is true because Jesus goes to the Father, and the Holy Spirit comes in His stead. Hence, Spirit-led ministry in Jesus’ Name, considered in the aggregate, spreads over a larger area than Jesus’ earthly ministry, bears more converts than Jesus’ earthly ministry, and extends for a longer time than Jesus’ earthly ministry. These are the senses in which Jesus’ mystical Body, the Church, does His works and greater—just as He said.
Second, Jesus’ disciples shall have great power in Heaven (13-14). Jesus tells His disciples, in every age, “Whatever you ask in My Name, this I will do.” Jesus appends this reason for His promise, “…that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Then He repeats the promise for emphasis (14). This is a precious promises, indeed. Yet a question presses itself to the forefront, one many a thoughtful Christian asks, namely, “What is it to pray in Jesus’ Name?” Again, Matthew Henry helps us. To pray in Jesus’ Name is not merely to append the pious epigram in Jesus’ Name to the end of our prayers just before the Amen—though ‘tis no bad idea to make our aim explicit. To pray in Jesus’ Name is more than the epigram. It is to plead Jesus’ merit and intercession, and to depend upon that plea. It is also to aim at Christ’s glory in prayer—and to seek this as our highest end in all our prayers. When we pray in this way, in this Name, we gain what we ask (cf. 1 John 5:14-15).
Too often, we seek our highest human desire, or the relief of our most screaming need, as our highest end in prayer. Rev. Henry’s corrective is a good one, then. Our highest end, when we pray in Jesus’ Name, is His glory. May we, by His grace, seek this—even as we speak our petitions in His ear.
Would that we walk in this power from on high—a power that Jesus grants us—always. The source of this power, in our day, is the Holy Spirit, Whom, God willing, we’ll hear more about next Maundy Thursday. The Holy Spirit ever lives to glorify Christ. The Spirit Himself proceeds, as from the Father, from the Son, Whose atoning work we celebrate at the table tonight. Therefore, beloved in Christ Jesus, let us keep the feast.