Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
“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. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
– John 16:19-28
“In that day you will ask in My name…,” that is, in My nature. Not “You will use My name as some magic word,” but— “You will be so intimate with Me that you will be one with Me.” “That day” is not a day in the next life, but a day meant for here and now. “…for the Father Himself loves you…”— the Father’s love is evidence that our union with Jesus is complete and absolute. Our Lord does not mean that our lives will be free from external difficulties and uncertainties, but that just as He knew the Father’s heart and mind, we too can be lifted by Him into heavenly places through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, so that He can reveal the teachings of God to us.
“…whatever you ask the Father in My name…” (John 16:23). “That day” is a day of peace and an untroubled relationship between God and His saint. Just as Jesus stood unblemished and pure in the presence of His Father, we too by the mighty power and effectiveness of the baptism of the Holy Spirit can be lifted into that relationship— “…that they may be one just as We are one…” (John 17:22)
“…He will give you” (John 16:23). Jesus said that because of His name God will recognize and respond to our prayers. What a great challenge and invitation— to pray in His name! Through the resurrection and ascension power of Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit He has sent, we can be lifted into such a relationship. Once in that wonderful position, having been placed there by Jesus Christ, we can pray to God in Jesus’ name— in His nature. This is a gift granted to us through the Holy Spirit, and Jesus said, “…whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” The sovereign character of Jesus Christ is tested and proved by His own statements.
– Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
John 16:23 may be one of the most misused verses in the Bible. Okay, I am sure there are a lot of such lists, and this verse may not be on some of the lists.
Most interpret the verse as “Use the magic word and the senile old grandfather upstairs will give you everything that your heart desires.” The ‘senile grandfather’ is in reference to an analogy by C. S. Lewis.
Yet, the disciples were made this promise after they had proven to Jesus to be His closest friends. Their desires were to follow Jesus and Jesus’ teachings to death, if necessary. They each believed that Jesus was the Son of God. They did not just parrot the words as an incantation that would produce the earthly treasures most people think of when they read this verse. The disciples were stunned by what Jesus had been saying. If they really understood, they would have asked Jesus to skip going away and skip the grief. They loved Jesus, but they still had not grasped what He was saying.
While Jesus was talking to His disciples, He is giving us the same promise. When we are ready, He will give us anything that we ask in His name. To be ready, we must have a relationship with Jesus just like the relationship that the disciples had. It’s a little tougher. The disciples could reach out and touch Jesus physically. We must reach out spiritually. We must trust and believe in Jesus, His deity and His power to change things in our lives. And when our only desire is to take the message of the Gospel to the corners of the earth, we are ready.
Soli Deo Gloria. Glory to God Alone.