Did You Really Mean That?
"Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will." (Joh 5:19-21)
"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. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." (Joh 14:12-14)
WOW! So if we ask anything in Jesus name he will do it! Can I say, "I would like a new car, a nice house, perfect health, obedient children, etc." and then it will just happen? Did you really mean THAT, Jesus? No, I don't think that's what Jesus is talking about here, do you? That attitude is just more of the normal self-centered, self-seeking attitude of man. Man is always looking at things to see what man gets out of it. Man will accept God if there is something in the deal for man. But we need to stop and ask what God gets out of it.
I can't count the number of prayers I have heard that end with the phrase, "In Jesus name we pray. AMEN." Do you really MEAN that? Do you really mean that you are praying in Jesus' name, or do you really mean, "in Jesus name for my sake?" This phrase is no doubt added to prayers because of this verse in John 14. But it seems to have become a trite, ritualistic phrase that is added automatically to prayer almost as a magic invocation. Just because you say "in Jesus name" doesn't make it happen. Did you REALLY mean that?
Back up a bit and read the whole chapter of John 14 and you will get a better understanding. (Context, remember?) Jesus worked many miracles, even raising the dead, but throughout his ministry he made it clear that all the works he did were to glorify the Father and make God's glory manifest. He put aside any desire of self-glory and made everything for the glory of the Father. When he says here in John 14 that His disciples will do greater works than this, it is for the exact same purpose. All they need to do is ask in his name, so that the desire of the Father to glorify the Son will come to pass. The things that his disciples are to ask for is the working of the greater works in Jesus name. It isn't self-centered at all, and there is a condition that precedes the promise.
The first part of the condition is, "He that believeth on me" is the one who can ask in His name. Some versions have it translated as "believeth in me." The prepositions "on" and "in" are poor choices by the translators. It may be more readable in English that way, but it doesn't really reflect what is said. The preposition in the Greek is the word "eis" and indicates direction towards something. We have to first direct our faith towards Jesus and away from other things, including our self.
Likewise, when the text reads "in my name" it should be understood as by the power of his name. It is the Greek preposition "en" in this case, and "en" can be used in many different ways. In can indicate a location (in) but also mean "with" or "by" or "for" as well. Jesus said he did nothing of himself, but always by the power of the Father. To ask in his name is to rely on that power and authority, and that takes faith. When you pray "in Jesus name" do you really mean that you have faith in the power given to Jesus?
God's love for us is demonstrated in the gift of His son. He took the burden of our sin onto Himself allowing us to have life instead of death. This is the agape love of God for us. We are asked (commanded even) to love God, and that means the same way He loves us. He gave His most precious thing to us for our benefit; we give all to Him for His glory. The benefit to God is that through the events of our lives, His glory is made manifest in this world. Just as the Father was glorified in the Son, He wants to show His glory in us. That's the purpose here in John 14. We ask in the name of Jesus so that the name of Jesus will be lifted up and glorified in this world.
When we truly love the Father all things become a means of glorifying Him. When we are filled with peace and joy it is because we know we have His blessings on us. When we are facing problems, it is likewise opportunity to see His glory made manifest. We can despise the pain of the trials we face, but nevertheless have joy in the hope, by faith, that His power will be made manifest through us.
This understanding gives a greater power and purpose to our prayer. It is no longer a self-centered activity and thus we have no need to fear asking for anything that will bring glory to the name of Jesus. Let joy come that we may praise him. Let troubles come, if they must, so that the power and glory of God be made manifest by our deliverance. Did Jesus really mean that he would do whatever you ask in his name? Yes, he did! All we need do is love and trust him and then ask in his name. He wants you to ask; he expects you to ask; he waits eagerly to perform greater works in and through your life.