Monday, May 6, 2013

In Jesus’ Name

In Jesus’ Name
23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 23-33)
“In that day you will ask nothing of me, Truly, Truly, I say to you whatever you ask of the Father in my name he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive that you joy may be full.”
A while back someone asked me why I don’t end my prayers with the phrase “In Jesus name.” I found it to be an odd question, because I have ended many prayers with that phrase. But I don’t always, and hadn’t really ever thought about it. Amen always seemed to be a good ending to a prayer. Worked for Jesus when he was giving us the Lord’s Prayer. I also like Trinitarian endings, especially when I fall into the trap of prayer as sermon.
However, the question has gotten me to do a bit of thinking about what it means to pray in the name of Jesus. Or as he says here, to ask in his name.
Name means so much more than nomenclature in the Old and New Testament. Name has the meaning of being. This is what is behind the shared name of Father Son and Holy Spirit. For instance, when Solomon dedicates the temple he prays that it would be a place where God’s name would dwell. He knows that God is everywhere, but he prays his name would dwell at the temple. It is his being, his glory, his essence, his love that is meant by name. And so we are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In this act God’s name, and thereby the name of Jesus is given to us. We are in a real sense baptized into this name, so that this name becomes a part of us, and we a part of it. Because we have been baptized into his name, everything we do is in his name. Unfortunately not everything we do is to the glory of his name. We read in the second commandment that “We shall not use the Lord’s name in vain” this follows on the first commandment that identifies our Lord as the one who brought us up out of the land of Egypt. In light of Christ’s work, his death on the cross, we know Egypt as sin death and the power of the devil, all the things with which it was associated in the Old Testament. Jesus has brought us out of these things, dying on the cross on behalf of us and putting his name on us. So we keep his name holy among us. At least this is or prayer when we pray as Jesus taught us.
Everything we do is in his name, but not all we do is to the glory of his name, when we live, and teach according to his holy word, we honor his name, we keep it holy among us. When we sin and live and teach contrary to his word, we dishonor his name. In the same way parents are proud of what their children do, or ashamed of what their children do, because what their children do often reflects on them. So what we do reflects on the God who has adopted us as children. We fail him all too often in our daily lives. The old Adam stays with us. We sin in thought word and deed. We let anger get the best of us and lash out at people just trying to do their job. We let resentment set in and cool relationships with friends and family. We let pride get the best of us, and refuse to forgive. These are just a few of the things. Perhaps too often it is merely this, we forget to pray, and we forget to receive forgiveness. In other words we refuse to repent.
Everything we do we do in the name of Jesus. It is by the forgiveness of sins alone that we do anything worth while. He tells the disciples to ask in his name for anything and it will be granted that their joy may be complete.
That their joy may be complete, this is the will of the Father, that our joy may be complete. And so we pray “thy will be done.” We know prayer is not a magical incantation, by which we manipulate God. We know not to pray like pagans with many words thinking that by them our prayers will be heard. We know our prayers are heard, because we pray in the name of Jesus in whom we believe. We pray in the name of Jesus who has overcome this world that gives us tribulation. We pray in the name of Jesus because Jesus has died for our sins, and forgiven them with his blood on the cross, and he rose again on the third day. He overcame this world of death to give us life in his name. So we ask that our joy may be complete. That is that our faith is strengthened, that the Holy Spirit who the Father has sent in the name of his Son, who carries our prayers to the Father where Jesus our advocate stands before his face, that this Holy Spirit would destroy and disrupt the plans of the devil, the world and our sinful flesh who do not want us to believe in Jesus Christ or have peace in his name. And the Lord answers our prayers and our joy is complete, faith is strengthened and sustained, even in the midst of this world. In this world there is tribulation, there is sin and death, and we see it all and don’t understand. Good friends suffering, and we can’t help but to suffer with them if but in anguish of soul. We grow anxious and worried, saddened and sickened. And quietly we pray, thy will be done Lord, on earth as it is in heaven. And the Lord responds, he gives us his body to eat and his blood to drink, our sins are forgiven, and we are reminded that Jesus has risen from the dead. He has overcome this world. Death no longer has the last say. God is in control. His will is done, because his name dwells in the temple of God, his name dwells in you.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

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