Sunday, May 17, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009 Easter Six John 16:23-30
And in that day you will not ask me anything. Amen, amen I say to you, if anything you ask the Father in My name, He will give to you. Up to now you have not asked anything in My name; ask and you will receive in order that your joy be made full. These things in proverbs I have spoken to you; is coming, an hour when no longer in proverbs will I speak to you, but freely concerning the Father I will announce to you. In that day in My name you will ask, and I do not say to you that I Myself will ask the Father concerning you. For the Father Himself befriends you, because you have befriended Me, and you have believed that I Myself from God have come. I came forth alongside the Father and I have come into the world. Again, I am leaving the world and am going to My Father. His disciples said, "Look, now in freeness You speak, and a proverb you are not speaking. Now we know that You know all things, and that we have no need in order that we ask You anything. In this we believe that from God, You came."
When I was young, after my big sister made me eat mud pies, I was angry. So I prayed that God would strike her dead with lightning, as punishment. I prayed very sincerely, and even ended my prayer in Jesus' name...In an ecumenical prayer service, after many prayed to their heathen gods, a Lutheran Pastor took his turn at the podium, announced that they were all stronger after those pagan prayers, and then offered a rather nondescript prayer about a Son of God, ending in Jesus' name.
It seems that there must be more to praying *in Jesus' Name* than meets the eye. God didn't strike my sister dead, even though I attached Jesus' name to my prayer. That Lutheran pastor later apologized for the failings of his prayer, although it was in Jesus' name. Even the disciples had much to learn about this new thing–praying in Jesus' name, which they had not yet, at that point, been doing. Praying *in Jesus' name* is not just attaching a magic formula to your prayer...
So what exactly is praying *in Jesus' name*. Well, suppose somebody claimed to be doing something *in your name*. Should they do it without your acknowledgment? No. You must authorize someone to act *in your name*, because they represent you. Doing anything for you, *in your name* means that their actions are to be taken exactly the same as if you were there doing it yourself. Acting *in your name* as proxy is the equivalent of you doing the very act yourself.
That's just what asking *in Jesus' name* is all about. Whatever we pray *in His name* should be exactly the same things He would pray for. Your prayer-life therefore should mimic that of Jesus Himself. As Jesus prayed God's name to be made holy among us, so should you. Like Jesus prayed for God's kingdom to come down here to earth, so do you. As He prayed for the Father's will to be done, you pray for it too. For daily bread, forgiveness, and rescue from temptation and evil, you pray.
But let's be honest for a moment. How often do we search the scriptures so that our prayers speak as Jesus spoke? Most times we find ourselves asking for worldly gains, for selfish desires, for what we think might make us happy. Oh, we may attach Jesus' name to such superficial prayers, as though that makes them somewhat holier...but that is not really praying *in Jesus' name*. For praying *in His name* pictures Jesus' Himself as the Prayer, His words speaking through us to the Father.
Although you are not very good prayers, do not be dismayed. For you have a great Answerer to your petitions. And the good news for you today is that His answers are not dependent upon your perfect praying! For in the *name of Jesus* your Savior already came for you, almost 2000 years before you thought to ask Him to. He came to give up His life as your ransom price at the cross. You believe by the gift of faith that Christ came for you, that by His death, your death would be vanquished forevermore!
Indeed, from God the Christ came *in Jesus' name* for your salvation at Calvary. But He keeps on coming to you even today! Jesus came down from heaven for you to baptize you *in His name* where He washed away your sins and carried them to the cross where He bore your punishment in full. Jesus comes from God each time His Gospel message is proclaimed, from the pulpit in sermons like this one, which declare you forgiven, saved and worthy of eternal life *in Jesus' Name*.
And *in Jesus' name* you partake of His Supper. You eat *in His name*, as though He is right there with you, because He is! His body given for you and His blood shed for your redemption are yours in your Lord's Supper. For the words *in Jesus' name* mean that He is there, speaking and acting. Amen.
Today's hymns from LSB:
#469 Christ the Lord is Risen Today
#766 Our Father Who From Heaven Above
#490 Jesus Lives the Victory's Won