Saturday, July 17, 2010

Guest blogger, Stan Nussbaum, takes us on a journey through the messianic year calendar.

Welcome to the journey of our Messiah through the year with Dr. Nussbaum.

July 18 – Power in the name of Jesus

“You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father.” Jn. 14:13 (NLT)

“In Jesus’ name.” This absolutely standard way to close a prayer has taken on the status of something close to a magical incantation, almost as if we think our prayer is more likely to be answered if we use that particular formula.

There does seem to be something powerful and mysterious about simply pronouncing the name Jesus. For example, people under demonic influence may be unable to say it. Also the miraculous use of the name seems to succeed sometimes even for people who do not have Jesus in them, as we read in Mt. 7:23-24 (NLT): “On judgment day many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.’”

What is wrong with this picture? On the one hand we have so many of us believers today afraid ever to speak in Jesus’ name and expect anything miraculous to happen. On the other hand we read in Scripture of people speaking in his name all the time, seeing lots of miracles, and then being told that the miracles were “unauthorized”!

I believe the key to this ugly paradox is in the middle of the Jewish “sandwich” in John 14:13-14. The sandwich structure, technically called “chiasm,” is used widely in Jewish writing to emphasize one main point by bracketing it with parallel statements or ideas. John’s sandwich in these verses looks like this:

“You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it,
because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father.
Yes, ask anything in my name, and I will do it!”

Jewish readers are positive of two things when they see that sandwich. 1) The meat is the Messiah’s work bringing glory to the Father, and 2) The “bread” was never intended to be separated from that meat.

Bringing glory to the Father was Jesus’ agenda when he was on earth in person. If we have that same agenda, we are tracking with Jesus and we are able to ask for things genuinely “in his name.” We are “authorized” just like Peter and John healing the lame man in Jesus’ name. Then they testified that it was Jesus’ power not theirs that had healed him. (Acts 4:9-10) On the other hand, if we try to use the power of Jesus’ name to advance our own agenda of making a name for ourselves or impressing God with our spiritual power achievements, we will be just as “unauthorized” as the people who were doing that in Mt. 7.

The Message paraphrase of Jn. 14:13 captures the idea of “in his name” perfectly: “From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I'll do it.” The whole point of the Messianic Year is exactly that—to understand who the Messiah is and what he is doing. He is the one sent by the Father to bring us life, belonging, freedom, power, forgiveness, shelter, and glory so that in the power of the Spirit we can pass them on to the world, bringing glory to him and the Father.

So let us not use “in Jesus’ name” as a magical phrase or for our own power trip. Neither let us shrink back from using it and expecting its power to work. Rather let us use the power of the name for the purpose that the King desires, and may all heaven break loose!

Welcome: Jesus, Messiah, we welcome your power and your purpose. We love who you are and what you are doing. We want what you want.

Affirmation: Jesus is so powerful that even the mention of his name is more than the forces of darkness can bear. This war isn’t over but it’s won.



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