“In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full. ”
John 16:23, 24
I have always assumed that when Jesus told His apostles that they can ask anything in His name it would be granted that this applied to ‘anything,’ such as healing someone, or performing other such miracles. But I now read these verses in the context of what Jesus is telling the disciples starting at the beginning of the 16th chapter. And from 16:16 through to 16:28 Jesus is telling them a lot of “strange” things about Himself, the Father, and where He is going. He’s telling them so much that they are confused (see 16:17-18 as well as before this in 15:8 and 22) and they question Him about all this new and curious information. Jesus tells them “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12) Kind of an information overload. But the truth is they do not yet have the spiritual capacity to understand these things. Even when the disciples reply to Him, “Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.” (John 16:29-30) Jesus knows they really don’t fully comprehend all that is going on that night.
So in light of this 16th chapter, Jesus is trying to advise His disciples that there are so many things about the character, behavior, and plan of God that very soon they will be able to comprehend it all. And thus He tells them that “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf.” (John 16:24 and 26) Soon the “Helper” He has promised will help them in a very many things in ways they can’t begin to understand, but soon a time will come when figurative language will no longer be necessary. Just ask the Father and understanding will be given to you. After all, Jesus does not want Apostles preaching the Gospel using defective information about God, the Gospel, and the Church. In the book of Acts they are able to correct mistaken notions about what being a Christian entails, like in the fate of Ananias and his wife, and dealing with the magician Bar-Jesus or ministering to those who only incompletely understood the Gospel. Accurately handling the Word of Truth is paramount to the spread of the Good News.
So I think that the things Jesus referred to are all the things that would help them in administering the Gospel to the fallen world. And God can be depended upon to stand beside them in their task because of His promises and that He has overcome the world.
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]