In that day you will ask in My name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.
I. THE OBJECTS OF THE FATHER'S LOVE. The description given of such as the Father regards with affection is very definite and very instructive.
1. They are those who love Christ. Undoubtedly, the apostles, to whom these words were originally spoken, did love their Master; events proved the sincerity of their attachment. Yet this qualification is one which may exist in those who have not seen Jesus in the body, but only with the eye of faith. Christians, who are such in reality and not merely in name, cherish a warm and grateful affection towards the Son of God, who himself loved them and bought them with his precious blood. Their love does not evaporate in sentiment; it displays itself in their reception of his doctrine, their obedience to his commands, their imitation of his holy example.
2. They are those who believe in Christ's Divine mission. If any man thinks of Christ as of One who is "of the earth," who is a merely human development, who has no special and Divine authority to save and to rule, such a one is not described in this language, and shuts himself out from the blessing which is accessible. But he who thinks of Jesus as of the Being who came forth from the Father, commissioned and equipped by the Father to be the Savior of men, and who not only thinks of him aright, but acts towards him in such a way as this belief authorizes, he may be encouraged to regard himself as the object of the Divine Father's love. Thus love and belief are both necessary. In this passage love takes precedence; but some belief concerning Christ must come before love, though unquestionably the loving soul learns to believe more richly and fully concerning the Divine, incomparable Friend.
II. THE CHARACTER OF THE FATHER'S LOVE.
1. It originates in his benevolent nature. His love is not caused by ours. "We love him, because he first loved us." But the love of Divine pity revealed in Christ enkindles the flame of love upon our hearts.
2. It manifests itself in the mediation of the Son. The love of God is not caused by the intercession of our Divine Advocate and Representative.
3. It is, towards these who believe in Christ, the love of satisfaction and complacency. Beginning (if we may use language so human) with pity, the Divine love goes on to approval. The Father recognizes in the friends and followers of Christ the same moral features and expressions which he looks upon with delight in his Son. This is a view of God which is eminently and distinctively Christian. The God whom we worship is a God who can love man, whose love flows forth in streams of compassion towards all men, but whose favor is revealed to those who display moral sympathy with his own beloved Son.
III. THE PROOF OF THE FATHER'S LOVE.
1. The objects of this Divine affection are encouraged to ask for what they need from him who is able to supply their many and varied wants. What greater evidence can there be of fatherly and filial feeling than when a son is at liberty to prefer requests to a parent who has confidence in his child and has the means of satisfying and of pleasing him? Such are the relations between the heavenly Father and those whom he adopts into his family.
2. The spontaneous disposition of the Father is to grant the requests of his children. This language casts light upon the Scripture doctrine of intercession. Christ is the Advocate with God, but his advocacy does not consist in persuading an unwilling Deity to relent from his severity and to act with generosity. On the contrary, the advocacy is the appointment of Divine love and the channel of Divine favor. Christ does not mean that he will not pray the Father for us; but that this fact of intercession is not the point upon which he is now dwelling. He is anxious that his friends should understand that the Father's love is free, that his liberality is such as to secure to his Son's friends the enjoyment of all good. And, as a consequence, every Christian is encouraged to bring his petitions to God, in the Name of Christ indeed, yet with the assurance that there is now nothing on the part of the Father to hinder the bestowal of all needed and desirable blessings. - T.
I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you.
I. A NEW CONCEPTION OF GOD.
1. New to the Jew with his elaborate sacrificial and mediatorial scheme.
2. New to us who, conscious of sin and of God's anger against it, could never have hoped that He would view us in any other light but that of aliens.
II. THE ANXIETY OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER TO ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN CLOSE RELATIONS WITH HIS CHILDREN. The mediation of Christ is a means to the end of bringing us to God (1 Peter 3:18).
III. THE ERROR OF MULTIPLYING THE MEDIATIONS BETWEEN THE SOUL AND GOD. Remove God afar off, confine Him to the heavens, then priests mediating for men, and saints mediating for priests, is rational; but how does it comport with this saying and the whole teaching of Scripture, which reveals a God dwelling in the heart, and jealous of everything that comes between Him and the soul He has redeemed.
IV. THE COMFORTABLE BELIEF THAT CHRIST MAKES INTERCESSION FOR US. Christ does not decline to pray for us. He only makes known God's willingness to hear us directly. But all the while we know He ever liveth to make intercession for US.
(H. M. Jackson.)1. In three passages from the Epistles, we find a notable consensus of statement on the present work of Christ as our Intercessor. St. John lays stress on the basis of this advocacy; it is His own personal righteousness and His propitiatory atonement. St. Paul makes intercession the climax of that splendid series of facts on which reposes the safety of a believer: Christ not only died and rose, He even ascended to the Father's side, and there, says he, He "also maketh intercession." In the Epistle to the Hebrews, emphasis lies on the ceaselessness of that intercession, which is offered not by a mortal priest, but by One who ever liveth, and whose priesthood is unchangeable.
2. How admirably all this fits into the wants of our nature! Even had there been no sin to be dealt with, humanity might have found its way to the Father best through a mediator. As it is, not without some reconciling Go-between to act for him and to speak for him, does the criminal venture to approach his Judge. Even after we know that satisfaction has been made, there still remain the hesitation and the awe of conscious unworthiness. Now, the appropriate and very tender response which God has given to this reserve on our part is the Divine Man. The awful fact of incarnation creates at once a Spokesman, into whose ear we need have less fear to whisper our confessions or our needs, and whose lips are clean enough to speak for us to the Father.
3. But while Christ's advocacy for us is a valuable part of His mediation and a comfort to timid petitioners, it is exposed to misconception. Jesus is our priestly Suppliant, who entreats mercy on the ground of His sacrifice; our Advocate, who represents our case to the Judge; our powerful Patron, who moves the Father to do at His instance what He would not do for our deserving. The first of these modes of representing the intercession is biblical and harmless. The others suggests false associations. In Asiatic states, and even under Roman law, patronage was nearly everything. To get some one in high position or close friendship with the judge to speak for you, was, as it still is in the East, the only line of safety. It is plain that where men's minds were steeped in associations of this description, it would be natural to transfer similar ideas to the Divine Advocate in heaven. What a miserably false conception this suggests of the Divine character! How it reduces the righteous and impartial God to the weakness of a corruptible earthly sovereign! How it makes the Saviour's plea a plea not of equity addressed to righteous love, but of affection addressed to the indulgence of partiality! It splits the Divine character in two, and apportions its features between the First and Second of the blessed Persons, and gathers into the remoter Father, at whose judgment-seat Jesus pleads, all the sterner attributes of anger, rigorous justice, and hardness to be won: while Jesus Christ become the placable and gentle Friend, on whose good offices, with His Father, we have to build our hope.
4. Any one who is familiar with the popular working of Catholicism in modern times will know how, in the Church of Rome, this process has gone even a step further. Having thrust back the Son into the Father's supposed place, the Church has consistently thrust Mary in the Son's. For all practical purposes of religious worship, or pious hope, Christ's mother is now the benignant patroness, to whose maternal persuasions the soul may trust for final mercy. Nay, this generation of Catholics has begun to carry the process one step further still. Since Mary was declared to be immaculate, the Catholic heart seeks now an intercessor with the Virgin. Joseph must plead now with the awful mother, that she may plead with her more awful Son. Horrible as all this sounds in a Protestant ear, yet it is possible to say, "Jesus, pray for us!" and mean what is quite as dishonouring to the infinite charity of the Godhead, as though we said, "Mary, pray for us!" or "Joseph, pray for us!" If the intercession which we solicit means in either case the extorting of boons from an unwilling hand, then the one conception is just as heathenish and unscriptural as the other.
5. None of the apostolic writers has been led to say one word to guard against an abuse so monstrous, but their far-sighted Master had before protested against it by anticipation, in the text which was spoken only a few minutes before He lifted up His voice in that wonderful intercession, and that lest the apostles should suppose the Father's love to be in the least inferior to His own, or to need any prompting from Him. It was the special work of Jesus to discover to us, not Himself, but His Father; or Himself only as the Incarnate image of His Father. As this was His business, so, being a true Son, it was also His delight. What vexed Him was that the disciples would not, or could not, look through and past Himself to the Greater One, whose Image and Messenger He was. Hence there grew up in Him a consuming anxiety that men would honour the Father, and an alarm lest they should be led to think less of the Father's love than of His own. This alarm it is which finds vent in the text.
6. How, then, are we to represent to ourselves the intercession of Christ while guarding the spontaneous love of the Father? Take the case of a guilty penitent who approaches the Divine seat for pardon. He is certain that the heart of God is as the heart of a father. He knows, therefore, that the Father Himself loves him, and of His own accord will bend a favourable ear to his request. But he is no less certain that pardon is a judicial act on the part of God, an act which He can only do in consideration of previous satisfaction for sin. The guilty petitioner, therefore, approaches with his mind full of the Atonement, recognizing in it the supreme generosity of God clearing away every obstacle to his forgiveness, and he begs for the Father's mercy in the name of Jesus. Let him now be told that Jesus Himself is to be thought of as a priestly Advocate by the Father's side, to sustain each earthly cry for mercy with the plea of His own finished atonement. What does the petitioner learn from that? That the Father cares less about forgiving him than the Son? That forgiveness is not only to be wrung through personal interest? No, but this — that the judicial basis on which the righteous Father can grant the pardon which He longs to grant is now for ever present to the Father's mind, and for ever avails to sustain the sinner's plea for mercy.
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)
The Father Himself loveth you because ye have loved Me.I. ITS NATURE. It is —
1. A redeeming love. "God so loved the world," &c.
2. A calling love. "No man cometh unto Me except the Father draw him."
3. An adopting love. "Behold what manner of love," &c.
4. A protecting love. Babes, children, want guardian care, "Can a mother forget," &c.
5. A sanctifying love. As we all desire to see our children grow, so our Father desires to see us grow in grace. "Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth."
6. An everlasting love (ver, 31.).
II. ITS CLAIMS. "My Son, give Me Thy heart." God claims our —
1. Supreme love — a love of Him above every creature whatsoever.
3. Expansive love. It must embrace all God's family for His sake. Apply this in the way of —
(1) (2) (Bp. Montagu Villiers.) I. AN AMIABLE CHARACTER. The saint's love is the love of — 1. Of a debtor to his surety. 2. One friend to another. 3. A brother. 4. A wife to her husband. 5. A scholar to his teacher. 6. A servant to his master. 7. A loyal subject to his king. II. A DISTINGUISHING PRIVILEGE. 1. God's love to us is prior to our love to Christ. 2. Our love to Christ is not the cause but the effect of God's love to us. 3. God's love to us is infinitely superior to our love to Christ. 4. Though God's love is the same to all the saints, yet the manifestations of it are not so.Conclusion: 1. Serious self-examination, "Lovest thou Me." 2. Subjects for astonishment, gratitude and praise. (B. Beddome, M. A.) (H. W. Beecher.) (La bonne Nouvelle.)
(2) (Bp. Montagu Villiers.) I. AN AMIABLE CHARACTER. The saint's love is the love of — 1. Of a debtor to his surety. 2. One friend to another. 3. A brother. 4. A wife to her husband. 5. A scholar to his teacher. 6. A servant to his master. 7. A loyal subject to his king. II. A DISTINGUISHING PRIVILEGE. 1. God's love to us is prior to our love to Christ. 2. Our love to Christ is not the cause but the effect of God's love to us. 3. God's love to us is infinitely superior to our love to Christ. 4. Though God's love is the same to all the saints, yet the manifestations of it are not so.Conclusion: 1. Serious self-examination, "Lovest thou Me." 2. Subjects for astonishment, gratitude and praise. (B. Beddome, M. A.) (H. W. Beecher.) (La bonne Nouvelle.)
(Bp. Montagu Villiers.)
I. AN AMIABLE CHARACTER. The saint's love is the love of —
1. Of a debtor to his surety.
2. One friend to another.
3. A brother.
4. A wife to her husband.
5. A scholar to his teacher.
6. A servant to his master.
7. A loyal subject to his king.
II. A DISTINGUISHING PRIVILEGE.
1. God's love to us is prior to our love to Christ.
2. Our love to Christ is not the cause but the effect of God's love to us.
3. God's love to us is infinitely superior to our love to Christ.
4. Though God's love is the same to all the saints, yet the manifestations of it are not so.Conclusion:
1. Serious self-examination, "Lovest thou Me."
2. Subjects for astonishment, gratitude and praise.
(B. Beddome, M. A.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
(La bonne Nouvelle.)