John 15:16 - Why doesn't this happen like Jesus says? Is Jesus not talking to us?


#1

Today’s Gospel reading is John 15:12-17. Note verse 16 (emphasis mine):

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.

Looking for commentary, I’ve found only the NABRE’s footnote to John 14:14,

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

I’ve been trusting Jesus on this point for a while, asking for a normal, healthy body – virtually every day for a year and a half, roughly 550 times – and the Father hasn’t given me it yet, Jesus hasn’t done it yet. Why? Searching the Scriptures, I think I am doing all that He requires for such petitions to be granted, as well as praying for His grace to do it better.

Michal Hunt suggests Jesus makes this promise only to the Apostles. Did Jesus only promise this to His Apostles? Why then did the Holy Spirit include it in the Gospel without clarification for us to read today? Why is there no clarification to the contrary available anywhere? My pastor skipped the homily this morning, and there’s nothing from the USCCB, the Haydock Commentary, or Gary M. Burge’s commentary on John’s Gospel. If I am mistaken, then why is the Holy Spirit allowing me to misunderstand Him, not correcting me?

clerus.org has “Augustin on John, 86”:

“And that your fruit,” He saith, “should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you.” Accordingly let love remain; for He Himself is our fruit. And this love lies at present in longing desire, not yet in fullness of enjoyment; and whatsoever with that longing desire we shall ask in the name of the only-begotten Son, the Father giveth us. But what is not expedient for our salvation to receive, let us not imagine that we ask that in the Saviour’s name: but we ask in the name of the Saviour only that which really belongs to the way of salvation.

I’ve heard this explanation before, “It’s not really good for you,” and, “He only means those things necessary for you to obtain salvation.” Yet this contradicts Matthew 7:7-11, where Jesus appears to plainly mean good gifts, not only essential-so-you-don’t-die necessities.

clerus.org has “Chrysostom on John, 77”:

“That whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My Name, He may give it you.”

Yet it is the part of the person asked to do the thing asked; but if the Father is asked, how is it that the Son doeth it? It is that thou mayest learn that the Son is not inferior to the Father.

This seems to speak to the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son, reinforcing my understanding that my petitions will be granted (since Jesus healed people who ostensibly “didn’t need healing for their salvation”).

I can only see two alternatives: Either God wants me to wait until a day significant for my intercessors (and so I may continue growing in virtue), or the Catholic Church is wrong (e.g. the Bible is not reliable). Do you have any insight regarding these matters?


#2

Well, one thing that is important to remember with interpreting Scripture is that you have to take it into context with the rest of Scripture. So, while the verse you gave is completely true, it has what one might call a sister verse (a verse on the same topic that sheds more light). It is 1 John 5:14

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

I have bolded the part that is particularly important. Your prayer must be according to His will. There may be something in your prayer that is not according to His will. In other words, He is permitting your trial for a reason. Perhaps it is so that you will stay close to Him, offering up your suffering to be united with His. It may be the Father’s will to refine you through the trial of poor health. That does not mean that you should not persevere in the prayer to be healed. However, just understand that your will must be in line with the Father’s will.

I do not agree with the suggestion that this prayer was for the apostles only (and I generally love Michal Hunt). I also disagree that prayers are only answered if they have to do with your salvation. However, I will say that God will never answer a prayer that would lead us away from our salvation. That being said, I know that we can enter confidently before the throne of grace to ask for His mercy. I can only encourage you and say to keep persevering in the prayer but at the same time offer up all your suffering to the Lord.

God bless you! Know that you are not alone!

Some other Scriptures to ponder:

2 Cor 1:5-7

For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. * 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

Romans 8:16-18
For the Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit that we are the sons of God. And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him. For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that shall be revealed in us.

Heb 12:6-7

6 for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.”7 Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?


#3

Jesus was speaking to the Apostles in the upper room.

The whole discourse starts in John 13:12 after he washes Apostles feet and continues through the end of chapter 17. Jesus is talking to his inner circle, “The Twelve”, his chosen Apostles. Jesus is talking to the leadership of the Church, not to individual Christians.

Whatever you ask = whatever the Church asks.

In Acts of the Apostles, Peter and the other Apostles perform the same miracles that Jesus had performed earlier. The miracles are apostolic.

Its about the Twelve Apostles. Look at the context. Jesus is not talking to the crowds or the Jews or to Greeks or to some random individual but to the leadership of his Church.

Chapter 17 continues with the “High Priestly Prayer.” Jesus the high priest had just instituted the priesthood and he prays for his new priests.

Chapter 13 through 17 is a unified whole in which Jesus speaks to the leadership of his new Church.

-Tim-


#4

However, Jesus said to the crowds “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Mt 7:7 John letter teaches " And this is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him." 1 Jn 5:14-15 While you are certainly correct on the immediate context of the OP’s cited verse, I think there is scriptural support that tells the average joe (and not just the Apostles) to ask and it will be given. But, as I said before, there is more context to be considered.


#5

:hug3:

I am no scripture scholar, but I know sorrow and suffering, as do we all in this life. I am a musician (piano, guitar, flute, harp…), and my left hand was mangled in an accident five years ago. It was heart-wrenching seeing my beautiful hand like that. And of course, there are other pains in life… ah, poor me :rolleyes: :smiley:

I also see suffering all around me in the lives of my young students – cancer, murder, suicide, gangs, drugs, discrimination, poverty… And I am a prayer warrior. United to Christ, I offer Him everything, the good, the bad, the downright ugly, as well as my trust in Him – all according to the grace He gives.

Yet I also see little in the way of massive changes in the things for which I pray. Slow and steady improvement, sometimes…

But I always see a growth in my faith, my strength, my gratitude.

Sorry, I’m afraid this is a bit scattered. But here’s a bit of scripture that has been such a blessing to me for decades now.

Psalm 73

1 How good God is to Israel,
to those who are pure of heart.
2 Yet my feet came close to stumbling,
my steps had almost slipped

3 for I was filled with envy of the proud
when I saw how the wicked prosper.

4 For them there are no pains;
their bodies are sound and sleek.
5 They do not share in men’s sorrows;
they are not stricken like others.

6 So they wear their pride like a necklace,
they clothe themselves with violence.
7 Their hearts overflow with malice,
their minds seethe with plots.

8 They scoff; they speak with malice;
from on high they plan oppression.
9 They have set their mouths in the heavens
and their tongues dictate to the earth.

10 So the people turn to follow them
and drink in all their words.
11 They say: “How can God know?
Does the Most High take any notice?”
12 Look at them, such are the wicked,
but untroubled, they grow in wealth.


13 How useless to keep my heart pure
and wash my hands in innocence,
14 when I was stricken all day long,
suffered punishment day after day.

15 Then I said: “If I should speak like that,
I should betray the race of your sons.”

16 I strove to fathom this problem,
too hard for my mind to understand,
17 until I pierced the mysteries of God
and understood what becomes of the wicked.


18 How slippery the paths on which you set them;
you make them slide to destruction.
19 How suddenly they come to their ruin,
wiped out, destroyed by terrors.
20 Like a dream one wakes from, O Lord,
when you wake you dismiss them as phantoms.

21 And so when my heart grew embittered
and when I was cut to the quick,

22 I was stupid and did not understand,
no better than a beast in your sight.

23 Yet I was always in your presence;
you were holding me by my right hand.

24 You will guide me by your counsel
and so you will lead me to glory.

25 What else have I in heaven but you?
Apart from you I want nothing on earth.

26 My body and my heart faint for joy;
God is my possession for ever.

27 All those who abandon you shall perish;
you will destroy all those who are faithless.
28 To be near God is my happiness.
I have made the Lord God my refuge.

I will tell of your works
at the gates of the city of Zion.

God bless you, dear one. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

Gertie


#6

He doesn’t say “When”, nor does he say, “How”, so who is to say all requests made in his name are not granted by the Father?

Part of the problem might be, because of our human frailty, we are uncertain of what we are even asking for, or we are unwittingly asking for the wrong thing (see James 4:3).

But, God, in is infinite wisdom deciphers our petitions and acts accordingly, and answers all prayers by his means and by his timeline…not ours.

Peace and all good!


#7

Great question! I’m reminded of the time Jesus was praying to His Father: 'Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

In the book of Matthew, Jesus prayed this twice. Also in Romans 8:28

*And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. *

We can not understand all that the Father intends for us. Nor should we be able to! Pray with perseverance and know that His will will be done. God bless.


#8

:thumbsup: Thanks, beatiful psalm.



#9

God doesn’t give us what we want. He gives us what we need.

-Tim-


#10

Platitudes like these offend me. They suggest an unfamiliarity with suffering and a lack of appreciation for my suffering.

One may begin by asking you, “What do we really need?” One could argue that we only need to obey God and die – hence it’s okay for God to let any degree of evil for any length of time happen to us. But surely this is an empty argument, since the entire point of the question is how God is a loving Father (or how to understand God as such while suffering through no fault of our own) – and Fathers take care of and express affection for their children as often as they can. Would we call a human father good and loving if he keeps his children from starving to death “but that’s it”, no other interaction? No, we would call him neglectful. So please do not think that you are answering the question in a meaningful way here.


#11

I think Tim’s answer is quite meaningful.

We don’t want to suffer, but we are called to suffer. That is God’s will, and it is among the things Christ told us about the Father.

Although on a much grander scale, our existence is much like the axiom about athletic training; no pain, no strain.

Suffering in not related to anyone’s fault. We saw in the Gospel that the man born blind suffered not because he or his parents sinned, but so that in his healing God would be glorified. An Lazarus died, for the same reason.

Suffering is part of life, and the path to everlasting life.

We all suffer, and we should not feel like we are the only one who is suffering, or our suffering is worse than someone else’s. Such thoughts lack humility, and compassion for others.

Peace and all good!


#12

And what if the loving and merciful ‘coach’ trains the athlete so much that they break?? Then what? God gives more than people can handle. He has done so to me. I doubt now entirely that he is loving or good (at least to everyone. He certainly seems to love some people). There are many like me. Answers like ‘God gives what we need’ are indeed offensive to those who suffer to the breaking point. Go and tell a homeless person with a mental disorder to ‘be happy, because God gives what we need.’ Then go back to your home and eat a meal. Do you see the absolute absurdity of this position? Many of the homeless, mentally disturbed, or otherwise extraordinarily miserable people I’ve encountered either hate God or don’t believe in the Christian God. I don’t blame them. God doesn’t give everyone what they need. That simply isn’t true, even from a standpoint of faith and salvation. Thomistic predestination even affirms this and is an accepted part of Church tradition. Say it if you want, but it isn’t true.


#13

A well reasoned argument up to this point…a more appropriate turn of your phrase would be, “Say it if you want, but I DON’T BELIEVE it is true”.

Your statement is subjective, not objective, and truth is objective.:shrug:


#14

I have provided examples in which it isn’t true. If even one example exists, it (God gives what we need) becomes false. Calling it false is based on an objective argument. So to declare it as an objective truth is a necessity, unless you are a relativist. I am not. But that’s a whole different subject.


#15

No, I’m not a relativist, I’m a Catholic.

And as a Catholic, God gives me everything. The wonderful, and the sometimes distasteful.

But when he gives me what I find distasteful, it is for a greater purpose, and therefore is something I need, or others need, and what he has given me is to show his glory to others.

Again, the man born blind in John’s gospel, clearly did not need or want to be born blind.
And his blindness was not punishment for his sins, or sins of his parents.

But his blindness was a gift from God so that through his healing God would be glorified.

Check out the beatitudes. Blessings come to those who are facing not the riches in life we all desire, but to those who face suffering.

He said if we want to follow him, we must pick up our cross. That cross we pick up, is a blessing, not a curse, given to us out of our need, not out of our desire.

Peace and all good!


#16

You just completely blew off my first post, and then responded in a completely unrelated way to my response to your post.

Please reread my first post and actually respond to it. And then look at how you responded, how I argued against your response, and how you did not address that at all in your last post except for saying ‘I’m not a relativist, I’m a catholic.’ That is not an adequate response to a dismissive argument that you yourself brought up.

Please address each point without making tangential or unrelated arguments (at least when addressing the points that have been made). I will do the same. Thanks


#17

I think God drives us to the breaking point, but it’s our response that either makes our life story glorious or tragic: God doesn’t break us, but if we respond wrongly, we can break ourselves. Recall 1 Corinthians 10:13, emphasis mine:

No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.

Sometimes I think the way out is “just being”, until matters come to their end. One example coming to mind is Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, where she and the authors relate how her sister died in a Nazi concentration camp. God wasn’t calling her sister to overcome the abuse and survive and be successful at the family business: God was calling her to suffer patiently and die.

My point is that she could have rebelled against God at the apparent absurdity of her situation. If it wasn’t for the actions of others she could have lived a normal life, continuing to take medication for her frail health, and died at a normal age. So in the concentration camp she was pushed to the breaking point, and could have chosen to become angry at God (breaking herself) or to accept the suffering (leading to the testimony that she died with the beatific vision on her face, indicating that her suffering was her purgatory on earth). So sometimes the way out is to just be.

The problem here is that the man actually was healed when he encountered Jesus in faith, whereas I have received the Eucharist with faith hundreds of times without healing. My answer is that I am not yet ready to be healed, still growing in virtue, and that God is waiting for a significant day. But I wonder if this is really true, given the magnitude of my suffering and my best efforts to avoid sin, hence I ask here (in this and other threads) if I have misunderstood the Bible passages serving as the foundation for my faith that God will heal me soon.

Relax, mate. I think he chose to reiterate his point on suffering, rather than try to continue the previous argument in a direct way. I think he dropped the defense of Tim’s platitude in favor of reiterating the general value of suffering.


closed #18

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