23.And in that day you will ask me nothing. After having promised to the disciples that they would derivejoy from their unshaken firmness and courage, he now speaks of another grace of the Spirit which would be given to them, that they would receive so great light of understanding as would raise them on high to heavenly mysteries. They were at that time so slow that the slightest difficulty of any kind made them hesitate; for as children who are learning the alphabet cannot read a single verse without pausing frequently, so almost every word of Christ gave them some sort of offense, and this hindered their progress. But soon afterwards, having been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, they no longer had any thing to prevent them from becoming familiarly acquainted with the wisdom of God, so as to move amidst the mysteries of God without stumbling.
True, the apostles did not cease to ask at the mouth of Christ, even when they had been elevated to the highest degree of wisdom, but this is only a comparison between the two conditions; as if Christ had said that their ignorance would be corrected, so that, instead of being stopped — as they now were — by the smallest obstructions, they would penetrate into the deepest mysteries without any difficulty. Such is the import of that passage in Jeremiah,
No longer shall every man teach his neighbor, saying, Know the Lord for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest, saith the Lord,
The prophet assuredly does not take away or set aside instruction, which must be in its most vigorous state in the kingdom of Christ; but he affirms that, when all shall be taught by God, no room will be any longer left for this gross ignorance, which holds the minds of men, till Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, (Mal_4:2,) shall enlighten them by the rays of his Spirit. Besides, though the apostles were exceedingly like children, or rather, were more like stocks of wood than men, we know well what they suddenly became, after having enjoyed the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
Whatever you shall ask the Father in my name. He shows whence they will obtain this new faculty. It is because they will have it in their power to draw freely from God, the fountain of wisdom, as much as they need; as if he had said, “ must not fear that you will be deprived of the gift of understanding; for my Father will be ready, with all the abundance of blessings, to enrich you bountifully.” Besides, by these words he informs them that the Spirit is not promised in such a manner that they to whom He is promised may wait for him in sloth and inactivity, but, on the contrary, that they may be earnestly employed in seeking the grace which is offered. In short, he declares that he will at that time discharge the office of Mediator, so that whatever they shall ask he will obtain for them from the Father abundantly, and beyond their prayers.
But here arises a difficult question: Was this the first time that men began to call on God in the name of Christ? for never could God be reconciled to men in any other way than for the sake of the Mediator. Christ describes the future time, when the Heavenly Father will give to the disciples whatever they shall ask in his name If this be a new and unwonted favor, it would seem that we may infer from it that, so long as Christ dwelt on earth, he did not yet exercise the office of Advocate, that through him the prayers of believers might be acceptable to God. This is still more clearly expressed by what immediately follows.