24.Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name. It is probable that the apostles kept the rule of prayer which had been laid down in the Law. Now we know that the fathers were not accustomed to pray without a Mediator; for God had trained them, by so many exercises, to such a form of prayer. They saw the high priest enter into the holy place in the name of the whole people, and they saw sacrifices offered every day, that the prayers of the Church might be acceptable before God. It was, therefore, one of the principles of faith, that prayers offered to God, when there was no Mediator, were rash and useless. Christ had already testified to his disciples plainly enough that he was the Mediator, but their knowledge was so obscure, that they were not yet able to form their prayers in his name in a proper manner.
Nor is there any absurdity in saying that they prayed to God, with confidence in the Mediator, according to the injunction of the Law, and yet did not clearly and fully understand what that meant. The veil of the temple was still stretched out, the majesty of God was concealed under the shadow of the cherubim, the true High Priest had not yet entered into the heavenly sanctuary to intercede for his people, and held not yet consecrated the way by his blood. We need not wonder, therefore, if he was not acknowledged to be the Mediator as he is, now that he appears for us in heaven before the Father, reconciling Him to us by his sacrifice, that we, miserable men, may venture to appear before him with boldness; for truly Christ, after having completed the satisfaction for sin, was received into heaven, and publicly showed himself to be the Mediator.
But we ought to attend to the frequent repetition of this clause, that we must pray in the name of Christ. This teaches us that it is a wicked profanation of the name of God, when any one, leaving Christ out of view, ventures to present himself before the judgment-seat of God. And if this conviction be deeply impressed on our minds, that God will willingly and abundantly give to us whatever we shall ask in the name of his Son, we will not go hither and thither to call to our aid various advocates, but will be satisfied with having this single Advocate, who so frequently and so kindly offers to us his labors in our behalf. We are said to pray in the name of Christ when we take him as our Advocate, to reconcile us, and make us find favor with his Father, (101) though we do not expressly mention his name with our lips.
Ask, and receive. This relates to the time of his manifestation, which was to take place soon afterwards. So much the less excusable are those who, in the present day, obscure this part of doctrine by the pretended intercessions of the Saints. The people, under the Old Testament, (102) had to turn their eyes to the high priest, (who was given to them to be a figure and shadow (103)) and to the sacrifices of beasts, whenever they wished to pray. We are, therefore, worse than ungrateful, if we do not keep our senses fixed on the true High Priest, who is exhibited to us as our Propitiator, that by him we may have free and ready access to the throne of the glory of God. He adds, lastly,
That your joy may be full. By this he means that nothing will be wanting which could contribute to a perfect abundance of all blessings, to the accomplishment of our desires, and to calm satisfaction, provided that we ask from God, in his name, whatever we need.
(101) “A fin qu’ nous reconcile, et nous face trouver grace envers son Pere.”
(102) “Le peuple sous l’ Testament.”
(103) “Qui luy estoit donne pour figure et ombre.”