Gospel of John 16: 23-33 (NIV)
23 “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
31 “You believe at last!” Jesus answered. 32 “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
My remarks in the reflection preceding this one refer to a passage from John 14. Both that passage and this record Jesus’ final time of teaching his disciples during and after what we refer to as the “Last Supper”. In reflecting on John 14: 8-13, I addressed Jesus’ promise: “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son”.
The significance of Jesus’ saying “in my name” could be grasped, perhaps, by considering a Commonwealth Minister of State issuing instructions to his Departmental Head which must then be actioned by all staff in the Department because the Head has invoked the name of the Minister.
In John 16: 23-33, Jesus used “in my name” three times; let us focus on verse 26: “In that day you will ask in my name.” Reference to “that day” is to a “day” after the scattering of the disciples leaving Jesus all alone, after the trial, after the execution, after his resurrection and after his ascension to be with the Father.
When that day did finally come, there was no longer a need for Jesus to ask the Father on behalf of his disciples. That would not be necessary, Jesus was telling his disciples, because of the love the Father had for each of them, a love that flowed unreservedly from the Father because the disciples had loved Jesus and had believed that he came from God.
Just as Jesus would no longer need to ask the Father on behalf of first century disciples, he no longer needs to ask the Father on behalf of disciples who have subsequently trusted Jesus as Saviour and Lord. That includes us! We, in the same manner as those first century disciples, will ask, do ask, in Jesus’ name. On what basis may we ask? Because the Father loves us! On what basis does the Father love us? Because we truly love Jesus and firmly believe he came from God. That is what enables us to ask the Father in the name of Jesus.
Lord, teach us how to ask so that we ask only for that which will bring glory to you.
Drawn from a talk delivered 3 June 2014