I once heard a father tell, that when he removed his family to a new residence, where the accommodation was much more ample, and the substance much more rich and varied than that to which they had previously been accustomed, his youngest son, yet a lisping infant, ran round every room, and scanned every article with ecstacy, calling out, in childish wonder at every new sight, “Is this ours, father? and is this ours?” The child did not say “yours,” and I observed that the father while he told the story was not offended with the freedom. You could read in his glistening eye that the infant’s confidence in appropriating as his own all that his father had, was an important element in his satisfaction.
Such, I suppose, will be the surprise, and joy, and appropriating confidence, with which the child of our Father’s family will count all his own, when he is removed from the comparatively mean condition of things present, and enters the infinite of things to come. When the glories of heaven burst upon his view, he does not stand at a distance, like a stranger, saying, “O God, these are thine.” He bounds forward to touch and taste every provision which those blessed mansions contain, exclaiming, as he looks in the Father’s face, “Father, this and this is ours.” The dear child is glad of all the Father’s riches, and the Father is gladder of his dear child.
—William Arnot, 1808-18751
A Costly Gift, Freely Used
Access to our Heavenly Father, and all the things of the Kingdom, is a hard-won privilege. I take it for granted daily–what other sort of relationship with God have we known, as followers of Jesus? But that wasn’t always the case. The disciples, before Jesus died and was raised again, did not have the sort of access to the Father that we do. In John’s Gospel, Jesus says,
Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 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. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (Jn 16:20–24)
Jesus is explaining to his friends and followers that when he is crucified, the world will rejoice while his friends are full of sorrow. But when he is raised, they will see him again and their hearts will rejoice with an unassailable joy–a joy the world cannot touch, cannot taint, and will never be removed. That day, for them, will be (was) a glorious one.
That day is the ushering in of a new era. The defining characteristic of that era, in John’s (and Jesus’) mind is this: full access to the Father and the things of the Kingdom. When Jesus says “in that day you will ask nothing of me” he’s not saying that they won’t be asking for things. His point is more profound: instead of asking their friend who talks to God for them, they will freely and boldly approach God the Father, and they will ask. And whatever they ask for in the name of Jesus — that is, for Jesus’ cause and in line with Jesus’ work — “he will give it to you.” That’s a promise, y’all.
Perhaps living in this soul-numbing world has deadened our senses to the magnitude of this promise. How can our sense of this be re-awakened? Let us ask ourselves another question: how can you determine the value of a thing? By the price paid. This free access to the Father is free in availability, but not free in price. The price was blood. And it was a costly, kingly gift from Jesus to you.
How Does God Feel about You?
In the prior chapter Jesus says, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (Jn 15:10–11). The Jesus so experienced and knew joy that comes from the experience and intimate knowledge of the deep love of the Father, that he invited us in so that we may experience the same love that Jesus knows.
What could be more profound than that?
God the Father feels the same way about you that he does about Jesus.
As his heart warms at the thought of his Son, so it warms at the thought of you. And because of this remarkable love, he does not wince or sigh when we barge into the throne room like children and ask the King for a good gift. Tim Keller put it this way: “the only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 AM for a glass of water is a child. We have that kind of access.”
The only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 AM for a glass of water is a child. We have that kind of access.
— Timothy Keller (@timkellernyc) February 23, 2015
We were given this access for our use, not to put a plaque on the wall and keep it from tarnish. This all-access pass is meant to be worn on a lanyard around our necks, on our keychains, and in our wallets. When we get to the end of our days it should be bent, frayed, and faded. That’s how we honor the gift and the giver.
Jesus is holding out an invitation to us all: won’t you come and see how much joy there is to be found in asking and receiving from the Father?