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Really, Jesus?

In the gospel appointed for this Sunday, Jesus says something astonishing. He says at least three astonishing things, in fact:

"The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these." And

"I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son." And

"If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it."

Really, Jesus?

If we believe in you, we'll not only do the works you did, but even greater ones?!? You prayed deeply; you taught brilliantly; you performed a whole bunch of miracles, healing blind and crippled and diseased people, feeding 5,000 people with two loaves of fish, walking on water. You forgave those who hated you; you loved unconditionally. We can do even greater?!?  

And you'll do whatever we ask in your name?

If in Jesus' name we ask him for anything, he'll do it? Anything?!?

Yep.

That's exactly what he's saying. I've looked for an asterisk or footnote - someplace where it says, "well...not whatEVER, and he'll grant ALMOST anything, becuase there are of course certain exceptions!" But there is no asterisk, there are no exceptions. 

It sounds too good to be true: Whoever believes in Jesus will do the works Jesus did, and even greater ones. And Jesus will give you whatever you ask in his name, and if in Jesus' name you ask him for anything, he'll do it.

So what's the catch?

The catch is, there is a qualification, an important condition attached.

Jesus says "the one who believes in him" will do the works he did.  Not just anyone, but one who believes in Jesus. And he says whatever we ask in his name...not in our name or to promote our will. And not in the name of another person. And not even in the name of a cause or purpose (even a good one). 

No, it's those who believe in him and who out of that belief ask in his name that promises are made. And he'll do what we ask, not us. It's not "us" doing the things that'll be done, but God. 

So changing the emphases of the above sentence, read it again:

Whoever believes in Jesus will do the works Jesus did, and even greater ones. Jesus will give you whatever you ask in his name, and if in Jesus' name you ask him for anything, he'll do it.

So....

....the question for us - a question I hope to wrestle with a bit more in Sunday's sermon - is "how do we get closer to that place?  

How do we get closer to that place where our will and God's will, our desires and God's desires are so closely in tune that our prayers are guaranteed to be answered, because we are praying out of belief, in Jesus' name, and only for what God wills?

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