Sunday, May 13, 2012

He Comes to Us, by Going to The Father

John 16:23-30 (ESV)
In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. [24] Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
[25] "I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. [26] 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."
[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."

“I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father. “ This post Easter period we continue to discuss the ascension of Jesus and the bridge to Pentecost. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father. It seems a sad thing at face value. Jesus is telling his disciple that he is leaving them. Leaving the world. Going to the father. Leaving us. That is what it seems to be saying. And it is what he is saying. Though a little study of the implications of this, make it not quite so sad as it seems on first blush. Rather it is a good thing. It is a needful thing. It is necessary for Jesus, for the disciples, and for the church.
It is necessary for Jesus. Our Epistle lesson tells us that there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which s the testimony given at the proper time. That verse is a great one to memorize by the way. Jesus Christ is out mediator, the only one we need, the only one there is. This means contrary to modern thought in Roman Catholicism, Mary is not co-redemptrix. Mary had a special place in the history of salvation and we are thank ful for that. But in the end Jesus had to die a ransom for her sin too. It means that we no longer need prophets, or priests in the sense of the Old Testament, and therefore no longer need temples either. The Temple was a place where priests mediated via the offerings and sacrifices between God and man. Jesus has finished this, he has completed it. He is our temple, he is our priest. In him we have all the mediation we need. But this mediation does not end with a one time sacrifice on the cross, it was completed and fulfilled there, but the mediation continues. He returns to the Father, there he mediates between God and man on behalf of his church, turning the wrath of God the Father away from our sins, to focus on his wounds. He came from the Father, now he returns to the Father. He came into the world and now he leaves the world to return to the Father.
This must not be understood in any Calvinistic sense, as if Jesus can now be only found in some special throne room on the dark side of the moon. Returning to the Father does not mean one has no interaction with the world the Father created and sustained. Quite the opposite really. One might say he left the world so that the world could be more completely part of it. The Father encompasses the world, and so does Christ. Christ is returning to the Father in such a way that he is taking back what he left behind to become man. He was always fully God and fully man, He is still fully God and fully man. But he had emptied himself of his divinity as a man to be found as a servant, not finding equality with the Father a thing to be desired. Now he reclaims that equality, as it were. He does this to intercede for us, and to be with us.
Had he not returned to the Father. I think about that at times. What it would be like, this world, if he had not returned to the Father. Where would we find Jesus? How long would the wait in line be, before we could petition him with our prayers? Jesus is very much a man. More human than the human so to speak. We don’t know what it is to be human. Sin has so much consumed our humanness, we think it is human to sin. It’s only human we say. No. It is not. It is really the opposite of being human. Human’s weren’t created for sin, we weren’t created to die. To sin is to betray who we are, who we were created to be, it is to betray the divine image that we were given. It’s a perverse thing, a destructive thing. And sinners that we are, it is perhaps not shocking that we sin. We even expect it of each other. Perhaps there are certain sins we don’t expect of one individual or another. But even when they sin out of character we are not dumbfounded. We shrug our shoulders and say, it’s only human. That is what we know of our humanity, sin. We expect it of each other. Jesus is perhaps the first person since Adam to truly know what it means to be human. Without sin. Even now he embodies everything it means to be human. But I’m not sure we would know any of that had he not returned to the Father. Had he remained as the man the disciples knew, to only be found in one place. Had he not returned to the Father, he could not accompany the disciples on their missionary journeys. He could not accompany Peter to Rome, Mark to Alexandria, Paul to Corinth, or Thomas to India. He’d be in one place, and we would have to go to him, like the lepers outside of Jericho, so that he could hear our prayers and answer them. But he returns to the Father, our divine mediator who ransomed us all. So that now, we can pray directly to the Father in the name of Jesus and know that our prayers are heard, and that Jesus is there mediating and intecessing on behalf of us and the church forever. He is there, because he is here. He left the world as man the way we know man to be, so that he could be in the world, everywhere in the world as the God man, our mediator. For being with the Father, he is where the Father is, and the Father is sustaining his creation.
He had to go to the Father. He went to the Father so he could remain with his disciples. He went to the Father that he could remain with his church. So that he could be here today where 2 or three are gathered in his name, to hear his word, to partake of his body and his blood, so that he could forgive those who are here in his name, so that he can give us his body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. So that we don’t have to buy a plane ticket to Jerusalem, the way a vegan Hari Krishna has to fly first class or coach to Calcutta to listen to a guru, who will die tomorrow. Or a muslim has to go to mecca to pacify his god Allah. No, Jesus has pacified the father for us. Reconciled us to him, and continues to do so even today. And he is with the Father, that he might be with us, the father’s creation, created in his image, redeemed with his blood. We don’t have to go to him, he comes to us, and he does so by going to the Father.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

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