Last week I tried to answer the question Why Do We Pray in Jesus’ Name? Paul Wilkinson combined that post with another from the All About Prayer blog for this 2-for-1 special at Christianity 201. When I preached this sermon on Sunday morning I expounded on the name of Jesus by including two other scripture references: Acts 4:12 (And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved) and Philippians 2:9-11 (Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father). emphasis added
I was praying over breakfast one morning when I got the notion to jot down a few notes about praying in Jesus’ name. I actually put down my biscuit and scribbled out three points lest I lose it by the time I finished eating. By the time Paul reposted the blog post I was working that outline into a Sunday sermon. This morning I just so happened to be reading Matthew 18 and came upon this little gem: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matt 18:20 I fired off the blog post one morning when inspiration struck during the blessing. I thought that was the end of it but felt further led to deliver the message as a sermon. Let’s face it, I didn’t just so happen to read that verse this morning in the course of my daily reading. The Holy Spirit is still leading me to learn more and share about the name of Jesus.
Believers meet in his name and we pray in his name. Why? Because our identity is found in Jesus Christ. To be a Christian means simply to be like Christ. Our lives are hid in Christ and when he appears we will appear with him. We have been bought with a price and washed in the blood, and as many as believe have put on Christ. We were drawn to Jesus Christ, called on and believed in Jesus Christ to save us, and are commanded to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.
In my sermon research I read the story of the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19. They tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus but were not believers in Jesus as Lord. They attempted to exorcise a demon by saying “I adjure you by the name of Jesus whom Paul proclaims” (as opposed to the name of Jesus in whom we believe or whom we proclaim). The evil spirit responded “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” Ouch. They then, quite literally, got their butts kicked.
There is power in the name of Jesus, there is life in the name of Jesus, there is hope in the name of Jesus. He is known by many titles (Immanuel, Prince of Peace, Christ – literally anointed one) but the name Jesus means savior, “for he will save the people from their sins.” Matt 1:21 The introduction of Hebrews tells us the he is as superior to the angels as his name is to theirs. Jesus explained to this followers near the end of his ministry that he humbled himself so that God could lift him up. His name today may be used in vain or mocked but will one day be exalted in heaven high above every name.