What’s in a Name?

John 14:12-14

12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13  Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

This can be a dangerous passage for some.  Dangerous in the sense that it can cause people to feel that they can do anything as long as they add “in Jesus’ name” at the end.  We see an example in Luke 9:40-43 that at one point even the disciples couldn’t cast out a demon in His name.  So we know its not just invoking Jesus’ name that makes things happen.

We need to remember here that Jesus was talking to His disciples.  At this point, Judas has left.  There are 11 men who are wholeheartedly sold out for God.  I think about this in relation to a Lieutenant I had in the Marine Corps.  He constantly reminded us that he “had our back” and that he would always support us and be there for us, even if we screwed up.  We knew we weren’t alone.  He also told us that if we needed to, we could “throw his name around” meaning if someone was hesitant on listening to us, we could use his name to invoke authority.  This was given with a hefty responsibility because we all knew that if we ever misused his name, there would be (quite literally) hell to pay.  He’d still love us and help us through whatever situation it was, but we all knew that if we invoked his name that 1) it better be for good reason and 2) if we use his name it better be something we know he would agree with.

Jesus’ instruction here is similar.  He isn’t talking about invoking His authority to make someone die or to curse a family.  Rather, He is giving the disciples authority to invoke His name to carry out His mission.  I think it is easy for us to miss verse 13 which tells us that the invoking of Jesus’ name is to bring glory to God the Father and Jesus Christ.

In the coming verses, we will also learn more about what He means in verse 12, that the disciples will be able to perform more works as a result of Him “going to the Father.”  It is Jesus’ ascension that allows us to receive the Holy Spirit and His power that comes with it.  However, it must be used for His glory, not our own.  It must be used to accomplish His will, not our own.  If we misuse it, then either it won’t work and we will look foolish or even worse, it will affect our faith.  Does it mean we will fall out of faith?  Not necessarily, however if we believe something will work (even though we are misusing it) and we fail when we use it, we will have a little less faith in it, won’t we?  Similarly, Jesus’ name must be used properly in order to have the effect for which it was designed.

How do you use Jesus’ name?  Do you know there is power in that name?

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