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.—John 16:25–27
The Mediatorship of Christ is a blessed truth. But have you ever considered the blessedness of what it does not mean? Jesus means for you too. He wants us to know what He is not saying. It is not that a loving Jesus brings us near to a wrathful Father. A loving Father gave the Son. The Father gave a people to the Son so that those people might draw near to Him through the Son.
The Father is not antagonistic. The Father is not even indifferent. The Father loves. You do not lay your concerns at the feet of Jesus for Jesus to then carry them to the Father on your behalf. That is not how Christ works as our Mediator. You come in Christ, through Christ, to the Father Himself. Yes Christ intercedes for you, but this means you come in Jesus’ name before the Father Himself. Jesus does not simply take your prayers to the Father. He takes you, praying, to the Father. Don’t forget that the Son taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven.”
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”—Hebrews 10:19–22
Oh dear souls, are you not in this being taught Christ by the Spirit through the Word such that you learn the Father (John 16:25)? Are you not in marvel at the good news of Christ crucified, risen, and ascended, having sent the Spirit so that we draw near to the Father through Him?
But, what Jesus says next may sound like a contradiction to some of what we have just outlined, such that verses 26 and 27 are in tension. Here they are again.
“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.”
The Father loves us because we have loved Jesus and believed in Jesus (v. 27). There are two reasons I don’t believe a tension exists here. First, I believe this couplet, loving Jesus and believing in Jesus, explains what it means to come “in Jesus’ name.” To come in Jesus’ name to the Father means to come embracing Jesus with the arms of faith and love. Second, I take this to be harmonious with what we saw in John 15:9–10.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 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.”
Jesus has loved us, we abide in that already love by keeping His commandments. Our obedience doesn’t cause Jesus to love us, it abides in His love. Prayer, in the name of Jesus, is an abiding in the love of the Father who gave the Son. When you come before the Father in prayer loving Jesus, you abide in the Father’s love.
As an illustration of all that is involved here, listen afresh to Luke 11:5–13.
“And he said to them, ‘Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him”; and he will answer from within, “Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything”? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’”
Oh what it is to come to the Father in the name of the Son! What confidence we can have. And how striking that there Jesus speaks of the Father giving the Spirit to those who ask Him. There Jesus speaks of the Father giving the Holy Spirit. I believe this is in answer to our coming to Him as Father. This then is not a reference to receiving the Spirit as the seal of our salvation. It is not a reference to the Spirit’s indwelling. I believe our text in John explains what it means: “Father, send the Spirit to teach me Christ and Christ to teach me you.”
Oh what blessed communion. By the Spirit we learn Christ. By Christ we learn the Father. In learning the Father, we draw near by the Spirit through the Son to the Father. We ask. And the best gift we could ask for is the Spirit. And then the circle begins again!