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In John 16.21-24 the Lord uses an illustration well known in womanhood at the time of the birth of a child, as illustrating the sorrow of death, the Lord's death, and the joy consequent upon His resurrection:

"A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but when she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for the joy that a man is born into the world. And ye therefore now have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one taketh away from you. And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing. Verily, verily I say unto you, If ye shall ask anything of the Father, He will give it you in My name. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be fulfilled."

The Lord knew well the emotions of a woman at the time of the birth of her child, the anguish of birth, and the joy that follows the birth of her child. This sorrow and joy He compares to the sorrow of the disciples at the Lord's death, which was followed by the joy they had when they saw the Lord again in resurrection. Peter and John, and no doubt others, besides the women who stood near the cross, had seen the anguish of the Lord's sufferings which acted tremendously upon them, but they saw Him again in the blessedness of resurrection joy, and their hearts reflected the joy which was His on being with His loved ones again.

I am not sure of the R.V. note on "And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing", where the marginal remark is "Or, ask Me no question". While the word "ask" (Greek, erotao) may be used "to ask, interrogate", it also means to ask, request", see, for instance, John 14.16, as to the latter sense of the word. Then think of Acts 1.6, "Lord, dost Thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" In this verse the disciples asked, that is, interrogated the Lord as to the kingdom. John 16.23 has further words on the matter of asking, that is, requesting, "If ye shall ask anything of the Father, He will give it you in My name". The Greek word for "ask" here is cateo, which means "to request, to desire". The two words "asked" and "ask" in the next verse (24) are forms of aiteo.

"These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: the hour cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but shall tell you plainly of the Father. In that day ye shall ask in My name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father. I came out from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father. His disciples say, Lo, now speakest Thou plainly, and speakest no proverb" (verses 25-29).

The Lord said that He would tell them plainly of the Father, and in that day they would ask in His name. He assured them that they were loved by the Father because they loved Him, and He had therefore no need to pray the Father for them. He was assured that they believed that He came out from the Father and had come into the world, and again, that He was leaving the world and going to the Father. Upon this the disciples said that He spoke plainly and not in a proverb. We believe what these dear men believed. The Jews thought of Him as a mere man, and to them it was blasphemy for Him to claim to be the Son of God, and for this they condemned Him. This was what they said to Pilate when the Lord was on trial, "We have a law, and by that law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard this saying, he was the more afraid" (John 19.7,8). No wonder Pilate was afraid; if he had only known that He would be his Judge, if he rejected Him as Saviour, he would perhaps have been more afraid.

It was a glorious faith that the apostles gave expression to: "Now we know that Thou knowest all things". In His Godhead His knowledge is infinite, yet He humbled Himself and became Man to fulfil through His Manhood all that was necessary to His mediatorial office.