Christ's Consolatory Discourse.
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also and greater works than these shall he do because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
The disciples, as they were full of grief to think of parting with their Master, so they were full of care what would become of themselves when he was gone while he was with them, he was a support to them, kept them in countenance, kept them in heart but, if he leave them, they will be as sheep having no shepherd, an easy prey to those who seek to run them down. Now, to silence these fears, Christ here assures them that they should be clothed with powers sufficient to bear them out. As Christ has all power, they, in his name, should have great power, both in heaven and in earth.
I. Great power on earth (John 14:12): He that believeth on me (as I know you do), the works that I do shall he do also. This does not weaken the argument Christ had taken from his works, to prove himself one with the Father (that others should do as great works), but rather strengthens it for the miracles which the apostles wrought were wrought in his name, and by faith in him and this magnifies his power more than any thing, that he not only wrought miracles himself, but gave power to others to do so too.
1. Two things he assures them of:--
(1.) That they should be enabled to do such works as he had done, and that they should have a more ample power for the doing of them than they had had when he first sent them forth, Matthew 10:8. Did Christ heal the sick, cleanse the leper, raise the dead? So should they. Did he convince and convert sinners, and draw multitudes to him? So should they. Though he should depart, the work should not cease, nor fall to the ground, but should be carried on as vigorously and successfully as ever and it is still in the doing.
(2.) That they should do greater works than these. [1.] In the kingdom of nature they should work greater miracles. No miracle is little, but some to our apprehension seem greater than others. Christ had healed with the hem of his garment, but Peter with his shadow (Acts 5:15), Paul by the handkerchief that had touched him, Acts 19:12. Christ wrought miracles for two or three years in one country, but his followers wrought miracles in his name for many ages in divers countries. You shall do greater works, if there be occasion, for the glory of God. The prayer of faith, if at any time it had been necessary, would have removed mountains. [2.] In the kingdom of grace. They should obtain greater victories by the gospel than had been obtained while Christ was upon earth. The truth is, the captivating of so great a part of the world to Christ, under such outward disadvantages, was the miracle of all. I think this refers especially to the gift of tongues this was the immediate effect of the pouring out of the Spirit, which was a constant miracle upon the mind, in which words are framed, and which was made to serve so glorious an intention as that of spreading the gospel to all nations in their own language. This was a greater sign to them that believed not (1 Corinthians 14:22), and more powerful for their conviction, than any other miracle whatever.
2. The reason Christ gives for this is, Because I go unto my Father, (1.) "Because I go, it will be requisite that you should have such a power, lest the work suffer damage by my absence." (2.) "Because I go to the Father, I shall be in a capacity to furnish you with such a power, for I go to the Father, to send the Comforter, from whom you shall receive power," Acts 1:8. The wonderful works which they did in Christ's name were part of the glories of his exalted state, when he ascended on high, Ephesians 4:8.
II. Great power in heaven: "Whatsoever you shall ask, that will I do (John 14:13,14), as Israel, who was a prince with God. Therefore you shall do such mighty works, because you have such an interest in me, and I in my Father." Observe,
1. In what way they were to keep up communion with him, and derive power from him, when he was gone to the Father--by prayer. When dear friends are to be removed to a distance from each other, they provide for the settling of a correspondence thus, when Christ was going to his Father, he tells his disciples how they might write to him upon every occasion, and send their epistles by a safe and ready way of conveyance, without danger of miscarrying, or lying by the way: "Let me hear from you by prayer, the prayer of faith, and you shall hear from me by the Spirit." This was the old way of intercourse with Heaven, ever since men began to call upon the name of the Lord but Christ by his death has laid it more open, and it is still open to us. Here is, (1.) Humility prescribed: You shall ask. Though they had quitted all for Christ, they could demand nothing of him as a debt, but must be humble supplicants, beg or starve, beg or perish. (2.) Liberty allowed: "Ask any thing, any thing that is good and proper for you any thing, provided you know what you ask, you may ask you may ask for assistance in your work, for a mouth and wisdom, for preservation out of the hands of your enemies, for power to work miracles when there is occasion, for the success of the ministry in the conversion of souls ask to be informed, directed, vindicated." Occasions vary, but they shall be welcome to the throne of grace upon every occasion.
2. In what name they were to present their petitions: Ask in my name. To ask in Christ's name is, (1.) To plead his merit and intercession, and to depend upon that plea. The Old-Testament saints had an eye to this when they prayed for the Lord's sake (Daniel 9:17), and for the sake of the anointed (Psalms 84:9), but Christ's mediation is brought to a clearer light by the gospel, and so we are enabled more expressly to ask in his name. When Christ dictated the Lord's prayer, this was not inserted, because they did not then so fully understand this matter as they did afterwards, when the Spirit was poured out. If we ask in our own name, we cannot expect to speed, for, being strangers, we have no name in heaven being sinners, we have an ill name there but Christ's is a good name, well known in heaven, and very precious. (2.) It is to aim at his glory and to seek this as our highest end in all our prayers.
3. What success they should have in their prayers: "What you ask, that will I do," John 14:13. And again (John 14:14), "I will do it. You may be sure I will: not only it shall be done, I will see it done, or give orders for the doing of it, but I will do it " for he has not only the interest of an intercessor, but the power of a sovereign prince, who sits at the right hand of God, the hand of action, and has the doing of all in the kingdom of God. By faith in his name we may have what we will for the asking.
4. For what reason their prayers should speed so well: That the Father may be glorified in the Son. That is, (1.) This they ought to aim at, and have their eye upon, in asking. In this all our desires and prayers should meet as in their centre to this they must all be directed, that God in Christ may be honoured by our services, and in our salvation. Hallowed be thy name is an answered prayer, and is put first, because, if the heart be sincere in this, it does in a manner consecrate all the other petitions. (2.) This Christ will aim at in granting, and for the sake of this will do what they ask, that hereby the glory of the Father in the Son may be manifested. The wisdom, power, and goodness of God were magnified in the Redeemer when by a power derived from him, and exerted in his name and for his service, his apostles and ministers were enabled to do such great things, both in the proofs of their doctrine and in the successes of it.