In John 16:26, Jesus says, "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."
Jesus is referencing the times He said His followers could ask Him anything in His name, and He'll do it (John 14:13; 15:16; 16:23-24).
When we consider what He means by this promise, we must consider the context. In John 14:13-14, Jesus is talking to His disciples about proclaiming the gospel. When we ask Him to help us share the good news with others, He will do so.
In John 15:16-17, He's talking about loving one another. We need God's help to love as we should—and He is more than willing to give us that help when we ask.
And in John 16:23-24, Jesus promises to turn His followers' sorrow into joy. He often does this in response to our prayers.
At times, the Lord may feel far away. But we can rest assured that we won't have to jump through hoops in order to get a message to Him. He is always close at hand. Believers have direct access to the Father through Jesus.
We can draw near because of Jesus's finished work on the cross. We have access to the Father "in Jesus's name." However, we are to pray according to His will as it is revealed in His Word.
First Timothy 2:5 says, "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
Hebrews 4:16 assures us that we can "approach the throne of grace with confidence." We have direct access to the Father through Jesus and His Spirit, whom He sent as a Helper.
When, not if, we sin, it's wise to examine our spiritual life. Are we spending time studying His Word? Are we seeking, in His strength, to walk in obedience? Are we spending time with Him in prayer? Are we fellowshipping with fellow believers?
Doing our devotions, saying our prayers, and attending church aren't guarantees that we won't stumble spiritually, but these disciplines will enable us to recognize our sin, turn to the Lord for help, and repent.
Think of the prodigal son. He went to his father and demanded the cash value of his inheritance. He wanted to live "the good life" but didn't want to wait for his father to pass away. Upon receiving his inheritance, he squandered it on earthly living, wasting every penny, until he was doing the unthinkable, pleading for the pods he was feeding the pigs. But, thankfully, the story doesn't end there.
The young man came to his senses and decided to humble himself and return to his father, not as a beloved son but as a slave, knowing even his father's slaves were better off than he was. But his father wouldn't hear of it. He welcomed his son home with open arms and threw him a party. This is a beautiful picture of God's love and forgiveness.
Satan will tell us the opposite. At our lowest point, he'll say, "Look how bad you are. You have no right to pray. Look at how holy and righteous God is. Why would He want to hear from you? Why would He love you?"
Those are all lies. Jesus promises His disciples, who were about to fail spiritually, that they could still go directly to the Father—because He loved them. It doesn't matter who we are or what we've done. Because of Christ's finished work on the cross, the Father will always hear His children's prayers.
When we fail, we can be encouraged. We are growing spiritually. We have not lost access to the Father. He still loves us.
John 16:27 says, "For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God."
Does this mean the Father's love is conditional? Does it mean we can lose our salvation if we don't love Jesus as we should? As is always the case, we must consider the context of this verse.
Is the Father's love conditional?
John 4:10 says, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
In verse 19, it says, "We love because he first loved us."
And then Paul says in Romans 5:8, 10, "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us … For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life."
God loved us when we were His enemies. God loved us before we loved Him. So, He doesn't love us because we love Him. Our love for Him is the result of His love for us.
So, what did Jesus mean in John 16:27? He's saying we have a special relationship with the Father when we love His Son. God loves all He created, but He has a different love for Jesus and those who love Him. We can see that love in our text.
Jesus knows these men were about to fail. They were about to abandon Him in His darkest hour.
They were scared and confused—and afraid. But Jesus encouraged them, knowing the Father would happily welcome them back when they reached out to Him.
Like the prodigal son, when we reach out to Him, we discover how much He loves us. He welcomes us back with arms open wide, weeping for joy that His son or daughter has returned.
Even in our dark time, we can be encouraged.