“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give to you…”
The world tempts you with peace of mind. The world tempts you with the cessation of war and conflict. The world tempts you with your labor’s completion. The world desires you to receive these temptations assuming you will accept them as the peace of God. But it is not to be so. All the world’s substitutes for peace are brought into being because of sin—the brokenness of this creation. All that brokenness flows from the hostility existing between humanity and God. The peace the world gives merely alleviates the symptoms but does nothing for the cause. The peace Jesus leaves with you… the peace Jesus gives you… resolves the hostility between your God and you sinners (cf. Eph. 2:16). Jesus bears the hostility to the cross. When the source of your anxiety… when the source of your war and conflict… when the source of your relentless labor… when the source of all that substitute peace is resolved in the cross of Christ, then you live with untroubled and fearless hearts. You have Jesus’ Word on it.
Prayers from one who desires, even covets, the peace of Jesus Christ…
Father, your Son Jesus Christ died so that I might have this name “Father” to call upon you. Grant that, as I am numbered among the daughters and sons of your divine household, I would indeed enjoy the peace that Jesus has left with me. Let peace be with me. Amen
Father, I need relief from my troubled heart… relief from the violence of war and conflict… relief from the unrelenting labor of securing my life in this sin-broken world…. Grant me the ears to hear that Jesus Christ takes away the sin of the world and gives his peace in its place. Let peace be with me. Amen
Father, the cross of Christ exposes me in my own contribution to the troubles of this world… how I afflict others’ peace of mind… how I bring conflict into their lives… how I make more and more work for them…. I stand exposed before you and confess these as my sins. Lord, have mercy and grant me the peace of forgiveness in Jesus’ name. Let peace be with me. Amen
Father, you would have this world be well-ordered even though it suffers the chaos of its sinfulness. You provide the laws evident in nature… the laws known through social customs and cultural mores… the laws promulgated by governing authorities… all to bring order and trustworthiness into the world. Grant that I contribute to this trustworthiness and not the world’s disorder. Let peace be with me. Amen
Father, you set before me my neighbor and confront me with my neighbor’s needs. Grant that I be of use without thought of recompense. Let peace be with me. Amen
Father, grant the peace of Christ Jesus descend upon the Institute of Lutheran Theology so the hearts of all who care about it may be untroubled and unafraid. Let peace be with me. Amen
Father, there is a day coming when the peace of Christ shall be self-evident, my joy complete, and the sorrows of this world past. Until that day, let peace be with me. Amen
“The glory that you [Father] have given me
I have given to them,
that they may be one even as we are one…”
There is a sequence here, a sequence of glory, but it is not glory as the world gives (Jn. 14:27). Jesus passes on to his disciples the same glory that he received from the Father. It is a “self-emptying glory” rather than the world’s glory of “self-aggrandizement.” The Father has emptied himself of the self-aggrandizing glory of a godly condemnation of sinners (Jn. 3:17). Jesus has emptied himself of the self-aggrandizing glory of grasping after godhood (Ph. 2:6). And now Jesus passes on to his disciples the emptying themselves of the self-aggrandizing glory of possessing a righteousness of their own rather than the righteousness that Jesus gives them (Ro. 10:3-4). Through this sequence of self-emptying, the Trinitarian oneness grasps hold of Jesus’ disciples then, and his disciples now. The Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father. Jesus is in the disciples and the disciples are in Jesus. The discourse proceeding from the Father and from the Son, that is the Holy Spirit, is now the discourse between Jesus and the disciples. This discourse, the Holy Spirit, calls them through the Gospel, enlightens them with his gifts, sanctifies and preserves them in true faith—which is nothing less than the confidence that the Father has loved them before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) even as he has loved Jesus before the foundation of the world (Jn. 17:24).
Prayers from one so resistant to self-emptying that his “self” must be driven down to the emptiness of death before receiving the life of Jesus…
Holy Father, in your Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, you have provided for the oneness of the communion of saints, the very body of Christ in this old and broken creation. Grant that I receive this oneness through the gift of being emptied of self rather than my attempts at achieving oneness through self-aggrandizing righteousness. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Holy Father, as I enjoy your love received through self-emptying glory, grant that your love flow through me to my neighbors as I point to Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Holy Father grant to me such ears that I hear the gospel calling me into your love that has been mine since before the foundation of the world. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Holy Father so make my sanctification complete that I go out in service to creation and community with no thought of being righteous. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Holy Father, my oneness in you means my oneness with my neighbors. Since we are part of the same body—that of Christ Jesus—let me not harm my own flesh by doing harm to them. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Holy Father, hold the Institute of Lutheran Theology under your protection and grant that it preaches and teaches as Jesus has taught us. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Holy Father, grant me to hold this oneness in faith until that day when faith shall become sight. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.
John 16:23-33 “In that day you will ask nothing of me” (Jn. 16:23). “That day” is the disciples’ day of rejoicing (see verse 22).
Until that day, they will have grief and sorrow but when “that day” arrives their heart will rejoice and the joy they have then will be invulnerable: no one will take it away. The text has some built-in confusion because the English word “ask” is used to translate the Greek word “erotesete” in verse 23 and also the Greek word “aitesete” in verse 24. While both Greek words hold a meaning that can encompass “prayer request,” the “ask” of verse 23 also holds the meaning of “request for clarification.” So, perhaps, a different translator’s choice for verse 23 would read “In that day, you will have no more questions for me.” This whole section of text from John 16:17 until John 16:33 has Jesus dealing with the disciples’ confusion. They are confused because Jesus moves freely between their current situation and what the eschaton will deliver unto them. Jesus eventually relieves their confusion in verse 16:33 by saying “In me you will have peace. In the world you will have trouble and suffering but take courage—I have conquered the world.” Life in this world entails suffering and trouble causing us to make many requests to God in the name of Jesus. Worldly suffering and trouble will not be resolved until that day when Jesus’ comes, our hearts rejoice, and our joy will be complete, as Jesus promised.
Prayers from one who would rather have the suffering end now and the joy come immediately…
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son tells me to ask of you in his name so that is how I will come to you. Father, grant me relief from my impatience, be my strength in the midst of my suffering, and so make the anticipation of joy all the sweeter. In the name of Jesus. Amen
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son tells me to ask of you and I will receive. Father, enlighten me through your Word as your Holy Spirit uses it upon me so that I no longer see through a mirror quite so dimly. In the name of Jesus. Amen
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son tells me to ask of you in His name and so I ask for a clean and strong heart to endure the tribulations of this world… make it be Jesus’ heart for my heart, no matter how strong, will never have victory over the world. In the name of Jesus. Amen
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son tells me to love my enemies without thought of recompense while I only want to love those enemies so that burning coals are heaped on their heads. Forgive me. In the name of Jesus. Amen
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son tells me that I should love my brother… love my sister… as he has loved me. Forgive me when I want to love those brothers and sisters of mine with the meagerness of my sacrificial love rather than Jesus’ sacrificial love. In the name of Jesus. Amen
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son tells me that I should go and bear witness to him, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology is a place to bear such witness. In the name of Jesus. Amen
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son has given me a prayer, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” Grant me the patience to suffer until I know joy in the day of that prayer’s fulfillment. In the name of Jesus. Amen
John 16:12-22 “What does he mean by a little while? We do not know what he is talking about” (Jn. 16:18).
Confusion dominates among Jesus’ disciples. His words confuse them. We are likewise confused, even though we have the luxury of hindsight. Jesus knows the disciples in front of him had confusion; he also knows that his disciples of the future would likewise be confused. His solution? He makes a promise. He makes it in the form of an oath, “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” (Jn. 16:20). Jesus gives those disciples then, and consequently us now, his word. It doesn’t necessarily clear up our confusion… It doesn’t necessarily relieve us of our sorrow… but it does necessarily provide reassurance because Jesus does not lie. The confusion… the sorrow… will not last forever. We may well go to our graves not seeing the end of it. But it will end. We will have joy. We will have joy without sorrow… joy without confusion. You have Jesus’ word on it.
Prayers from a confused and sorrowful sinner for all my eyes behold contradicts Jesus’ promise…
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, please grant to me such assurance that I hold to the truth of Jesus’ Word and not believe my lying eyes. For the sake of the truth itself, hear me.
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, grant that I am not discouraged as the world rejoices around me as it continues to celebrate the silencing of Jesus Christ. For the sake of the truth itself, hear me.
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, I plead with you to forgive my failings… failings of despair… failings of faithlessness… failings of looking to my hands and their works… forgive them Father and hold me fast in your unfailing steadfastness. For the sake of the truth itself, hear me.
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son has come to be my life… the life of my mortal flesh… grant that he so use my mortality that it would be of some use to my neighbors in providing them with their daily bread for their life in this world. For the sake of the truth itself, hear me.
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, as your Son is my life and using my mortality to provide those neighbors with daily bread for this life, grant as well that my lips would proclaim the sweetness of your Son so that my neighbors would receive the daily bread of Christ’s provision for the life to come. For the sake of the truth itself, hear me.
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, you have established the Institute of Lutheran Theology and brought it through various trials and temptations. Grant that it, too, may know the joy your Son has promised. For the sake of the truth itself, hear me.
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, during these days, the days of my baptism, see to it that I am returned daily to the promises of my baptism through dying to sin, repentance, and being raised up to walk in newness life, Christ as my life. For the sake of the truth itself, hear me.
Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, I commend all these things to you for you have promised to hear us when we pray to you, and you do not lie. Amen
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“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (Jn. 10:27). Following after Jesus… often called “discipleship…” is here given three qualities: Be a sheep, in particular, be Jesus’ sheep. Hear… Hear Jesus’ voice. Be known… Be known by Jesus. Jesus’ sheep hear his voice, and he knows them. Out of that hearing and being known, Jesus’ sheep follow him. Is it really that simple? Every generation, or perhaps it’s every decade, some new program arises to make disciples. Those programs teach us to follow the rules and, in following the rules, we’ll be following Jesus. But did Jesus really come to be a new rule-giver? Luther didn’t think so. Jesus is not a new Moses, he would say. Those sheep belonging to Jesus hear his voice and, in that hearing, are known by him. The result of that hearing and knowing is sheep who follow Jesus—that is, discipleship.
Prayers from one who desires to follow Jesus but finds so many rules in the way…
Father in heaven, grant that I have ears to hear my shepherd’s voice… ears to hear all the many ways he knows me… ears to hear that I may follow him. For the shepherd’s sake, have ears to hear my prayer.
Father in heaven, grant to me that clean heart which only comes as Jesus comes to be the life of this sinner dead in his sin. For the shepherd’s sake, have ears to hear my prayer.
Father in heaven, grant to me such confidence of faith that I can trust hearing the voice of my shepherd and being known by him results in my following him… my true discipleship. For the shepherd’s sake, have ears to hear my prayer.
Father in heaven, grant that I follow my shepherd out into the world, into this old, broken, and passing away creation where the dust of both my creation and of my passing works its way between my toes and into my nose. For the shepherd’s sake, have ears to hear my prayer.
Father in heaven, grant the dust of my mortality spurs me to beneficial interaction with my neighbors and that the both of us receive the interaction’s good. For the shepherd’s sake, have ears to hear my prayer.
Father in heaven, grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology points its students to this hearing and being known that results in following Jesus–that is, true discipleship. For the shepherd’s sake, have ears to hear my prayer.
Father in heaven, grant me to endure the working upon me of this hearing and being known such that I follow Jesus all the days of my baptism and finally come to see him face-to-face. For the shepherd’s sake, have ears to hear my prayer.
Father in heaven, I entrust all these things to you for you have indeed promised to have ears to hear my prayer. Amen
“He [Jesus] said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish” (Jn. 6). Some years ago, Tullian Tchividjian authored a book entitled, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.” Since then, his clay feet have been revealed and he is numbered among the ranks of sinners just like the rest of us. That fishing crew headed up by Peter certainly had experienced a night of frustrating fishing. Giving up, they headed toward shore only to be engaged in conversation by Jesus who was standing on the shore. Again, at his command (cf Lk. 5:1-11), they put down their net one more time. It filled with fish beyond their capacity to haul it in. Jesus plus nothing yielded an impossibly huge catch. Some will want to insist that this is not a “Jesus plus nothing” scenario because the disciples had to add their obedience, their letting down the net, and the hauling it up again. They would be mistaken. The disciples had already been obedient to their profession… they had already let down their net many times during the night… they had hauled it in many times. All fruitless. No fish. Add Jesus, many fish. Much of the reform that has gone on in the church through history has resulted from those who would insist that, for the sake of our salvation, something must be added to Jesus and his work on the cross… something like our decision to believe… something like our work at an ever-increasing sanctification… something like properly ordained priests or pastors… These are the sorts of accretions brought into the church over time to make the message more palatable to human tastes. The reformation of the church… the stripping it of those things added merely for the sake of taste… the return to “Jesus + Nothing = Everything” is ever and continually the hardest reformation for the church to undergo.
Prayers from one who himself needs reformation into the reality of “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.”
Heavenly Father, you have promised that your grace is sufficient for me. Grant that I, as I am seized and possessed by faith in Jesus Christ, would then know Jesus Christ in his complete sufficiency. Amen
Heavenly Father, you have promised that your grace is sufficient for me. Grant that I am not driven to that place where I must add some work of my own to complete a supposed insufficiency in your grace. Amen
Heavenly Father, you have promised that your grace is sufficient for me. Grant that the desire to see… to see my faith in action… my desire to walk by sight and not by faith would not drive me from the sufficiency of your grace. Amen
Heavenly Father, you have promised that your grace is sufficient for me. Grant that, in the sufficiency of your grace, I would withhold nothing from my neighbors should they evidence a need for it. Amen
Heavenly Father, you have promised that your grace is sufficient for me. Grant that the fullness of my life as you have provided it would overflow to fill the insufficiency of those very neighbors of mine. Amen
Heavenly Father, you have promised that your grace is sufficient for me. Grant that my sufficiency be useful to the Institute of Lutheran Theology as it raises up pastors and preachers for yet another generation. Amen
Heavenly Father, you have promised that your grace is sufficient for me. Grant that I live out the days of my baptism in weakness so that your power would be made complete in me. Amen
Here, Jesus joins the disciples’ apostolic mission to his own. Like he says here the Father sent him on his own apostolic witness to bring grace and truth to light (Jn. 1:14, 17). Now Jesus sends his own disciples out on an apostolic mission of their own. They will bear witness to Jesus Christ and in that witness, they will reveal God’s very own grace and truth. Truly, Jesus sends them as the Father has sent him. There is yet another similarity between the two sending stories. Jesus was sent out to endure his passion which was nothing less than the Father having his way with the Son. Those Jesus sends out on their own apostolic mission will endure their own passion which will be nothing less than the Father having his way with them. This sending proves more radical and riskier than Jesus’ sending the twelve out two-by-two (Mk. 6:8-9). There, the twelve were to make no provision for their own sustenance. Here, the twelve are to make no provision for their own will to be done but only the will of the Father to be done to them. God the Father will have his way with them; it is their passion
Prayers from one with difficulties in suffering the will of another to be done in, and through, and upon him.
Father, you send me out to endure my passion, your will worked upon me. So be my strength as I endure this passion that I would not cease in bearing witness to Jesus Christ. Amen
Father, you send me out to endure my passion, your will worked upon me. So provide me with such faith that, when this passion is but darkness and despair, I trust (as the Apostle did) that my sufferings complete the “for you-ness” of Christ’s suffering (Col. 1:24). Amen
Father, you send me out to endure my passion, your will worked upon me. So hold me in hope that I anticipate eagerly the coming of Christ in his glory even though I’m surrounded by contradictory evidence. Amen
Father, you send me out to endure my passion, your will worked upon me. So give me eyes to see my neighbors with the eyes of love like Jesus did; and, though they work suffering upon me, I may be able to forgive them as Christ did. Amen
Father, you send me out to endure my passion, your will worked upon me. So provide labor for my hands that, even though that labor is immensely useful to my neighbors, those hands remain empty of even the pretension to good works. Amen
Father, you send me out to endure my passion, your will worked upon me. So work upon me that the Institute of Lutheran Theology will abide in my passion as well. Amen
Father, you send me out to endure my passion, your will worked upon me. So set me to the establishment of your kingdom through the preaching of Jesus Christ and his sacraments that the kingdom will continue in its hidden growth while Jesus is handed over to be the life of more and more dead sinners. Amen
I have heard preachers respond to the theology of the cross by saying, “We’re not Good Friday people, we are Easter people.” They, and others, advocate for demonstrating that resurrected life now, forcing it into visibility. There is reason for this. You could read the fourth point under the Sacrament of Baptism in Luther’s Small Catechism, “What does this mean for daily living Answer: That our sinful self, with all its evil deeds and desires, should be drowned through daily repentance; and that day after day a new self should arise to live with God in righteousness and purity forever.” In the reading of that you can hear how someone could assume “new self” would be the resurrected self. It is not so. In Romans 6, Paul makes it clear that our baptism into the death of Jesus is an accomplished fact (Ro. 6:4a). This accomplished fact of our being baptized into the death of Jesus establishes our hope in being resurrected like Jesus. That resurrection, however, still lies in our future; it is a hope, not yet a reality (Ro. 6:4b, 5, & 8). For the time being… while the flesh still adheres… in these the days of our baptism… the sinful self is indeed drowned through daily repentance but the new self that arises is not the resurrected self but the mortal self (the flesh) that now has Jesus as its life. Paul affirms this, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). So we are not Easter people for the resurrection to eternal life remains ahead of us. Yet, we are not quite Good Friday people either. We are Holy Saturday people, stripped by the cross of all visible assurance that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, having only his Word and his promise “On the third day…,” and living entirely in faith that our God does not lie and living only on hope for that promised resurrection.
From one who’s been stripped of pretension by the cross and who depends solely on the promise…
Heavenly Father, the cross of your Son, exposes my sin and convicts me of participating in his crucifixion and death. Free me of my guilt through the forgiveness of my sins. Lord in your mercy. Hear my prayer.
Heavenly Father, the cross of your Son, puts an end to all my pretensions at holiness and sanctity. Grant me true holiness and true sanctity as the Holy Spirit delivers them in the person of Jesus Christ come to be my life. Lord in your mercy. Hear my prayer.
Heavenly Father, the cross of your Son, strips me of reliance on all my works, even those I consider most precious and good. Give me instead a reliance entirely upon the work of Christ. Lord in your mercy. Hear my prayer.
Heavenly Father, the cross of your Son, turns me toward my neighbor and gives me eyes to see how I have abused them by forcing my own agenda upon them. Forgive me, as I now try to live in their service rather than serving myself. Lord in your mercy. Hear my prayer.
Heavenly Father, the cross of your Son puts me to death, taking that sinful and wretched self of mine down beneath the waters of baptism and its subsequent days of repentance. So raise me up to that newness of life wherein Christ is the life of my mortal flesh that I may be of use to my neighbors and creation itself. Lord in your mercy. Hear my prayer.
Heavenly Father, the cross of your Son sets before us all its critiques upon all things in this passing away world. Grant the Institute of Lutheran Theology to teach its students how to so preach the cross that their preaching would bring the cross’ critique before their hearers. Lord in your mercy. Hear my prayer.
Heavenly Father, the cross of your Son and the humiliation afflicted upon him is joined to us in our baptism into Christ. Grant the Holy Spirit to work faith and hope through the preaching of the Word that I might wait in both faith and hope until that day when the resurrection of the body becomes my reality. Lord in your mercy. Hear my prayer.
“But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God” (Lk. 22:69). Jesus treads carefully here. He knows his conviction is a foregone conclusion. Yet, he wants to make the conviction be the result of their misuse of the law rather than the truth of his words. A second reason he treads carefully is that he weaves scripture references into his responses to their interrogation. Even as his interrogators fill the scene with intimidation, looking to misinterpret his every nuance, Jesus gives them back the words of their very own scripture. He challenges them with a recollection of Jeremiah’s life-threatening confrontation before King Zedekiah. In that scene, Jeremiah challenges the king, in the same way, Jesus challenges his interrogators, [even if I tell you] “you will not listen to me” (Jer. 38:15). Second, Jesus lays before them Psalm 110:1. There the Lord invites “my Lord” to sit at his right hand and to enjoy watching as he puts all of “my Lord’s” enemies beneath his feet. Jesus’ interrogators may be successful in putting him to death in the most humiliating and shameful manner, but he knows the promises and he fulfills them. Today, we still confess in our creed that he “sits at the right hand of God…”
Prayers from one numbered among the interrogators of Jesus yet who confesses Jesus as Messiah…
Father in heaven, you sustained Jesus in his trial with your gift of perfect faith. Give to me such faith that I am sustained in my trials as well so that your holy name be glorified. I pray to you Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and for Jesus’ sake. Amen
Father in heaven, you uphold me in my trials, not because of any merit of my own, but simply for the sake of your mercy so that your holy name will be glorified. I pray to you Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and for Jesus’ sake. Amen
Father in heaven, again and again, you must strip my false assumptions of merit from me; I cannot help myself in thinking that somehow, I’ll be worthy of your love to me. Grant me complete confidence in your love so that your name, not mine, is glorified. I pray to you Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and for Jesus’ sake. Amen
Father in heaven, you turn me from storming the gates of heaven in my quests for holiness and righteousness, and you turn me toward my neighbor. Grant that I attend them properly to the glory of your name, not mine. I pray to you Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and for Jesus’ sake. Amen
Father in heaven, you have set me within a Christian congregation that together we would come beneath your word, stand under its authority, and receive you as you have your way with us. Send us forth from that gathering into a world awaiting our witness to Jesus Christ, Savior. I pray to you Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and for Jesus’ sake. Amen
Father in heaven, the Institute of Lutheran Theology (ILT) has been established in your name. Grant that ILT continue to honor and glorify your name as it bears witness to Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone. I pray to you Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and for Jesus’ sake. Amen
Father in heaven, you have promised a new earth and a new heaven to replace this old creation broken by sin. Grant that in faith I know that reality now even as I live out the days of my baptism. I pray to you Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and for Jesus’ sake. Amen
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