Truly, truly, I tell you, you will weep and wail while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman has pain in childbirth because her time has come; but when she brings forth her child, she forgets her anguish because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask Me anything. Truly, truly, I tell you, whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. (John 16:20-24)
Jesus uses very graphic language, often he says things in a way that shocks us. Here he likens the grief of him dying and leaving to that of a mother giving birth. A necessary pain, for a greater cause. His death is, for us, a great source of joy. It is joyful because His death brings us life. It is a joy that comes at a cost though, and as strange as it is, we appreciate it more, because it has a price.
This verse about asking anything in “My Name” has been a little abused in the modern church. We need to put it into context. To do something ‘In someone’s Name” means to do it in their character and for their glory. We speak in the Name of Jesus, we pray in the Name of Jesus because we are aligning ourselves with His character, we are becoming one with Him. Here Jesus is saying to the Israelites, you have lived under the law and asked God to protect you as an obligation to the Covenant of the Law. But now Jesus is offering a unity with God that we could not have under the law, it is the ability to have a deep personal relationship with the living God. It is the ability to become true children of God and share in the character of Jesus. “Ask and you shall receive, so that your joy may be complete.” Today ask that God by His Holy Spirit will mould you into the likeness of His Son. You were created in God’s image, but sin marred that image, but Jesus restores us to God so that we can grow in the character of Godliness. “Seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8) and we will grow in the character of God and know what to ask and how to ask and when to ask. We will be in tune with the Spirit of God and submit to His will. This way we will be doing what God requires and not what we require, and we will receive what God wants for us, and we will want it too.
Jesus is saying – Get in tune with God, so that what you ask for, is what God wants for your life, and not what your sinful self, desires.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.
Love and peace. Fr Andrew.