In his name

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Quite a few worship songs talk about “the name of Jesus.”  Classics include: 

“There is power in the name of Jesus”

“There is a name, who reigns without contention …”

“What a wonderful;/beautiful/powerful name it is.”

“I speak Jesus”

There is a risk with these kinds of song lyrics that they could be perceived superstitiously as though the name “Jesus” has magical properties.  If you think that way they you risk ending up like the seven sons of Sciva who  thought they’d have a go at exorcism in the name of Jesus and Paul.[1] The demon responded

“I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” 

Luke reports that the demonised man “leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered.” 

The problem of course was that these men did not know Jesus themselves.  They had heard of Paul’s preaching and they thought that there must be some magical properties in the name of Jesus but had no saving knowledge of Christ themselves. The name of Jesus is not a charm to be used.

Yet, Scripture does talk about “the name of Jesus” as something that commands authority, so that at the end of history, all people will have to bow at the mention of the name.  What is it about the name that causes us to talk of it having beauty and power? Well, here is one way:

The other day, I had to call one of those customer service helplines.  We had a contract with the particular company.  However, the account was actually in my wife’s name.  Often in such situations, you may not be able to talk to the customer service person at all if you are not the named person on the account.  On this occasion, they were happy for me to give my wife’s name as the account holder because I was also able to give some additional information to show that I wasn’t just some random person calling up. 

One reason why we can say that there is power in the name of Jesus is because in effect, Jesus is the account holder.  In Romans 4:1-8, Paul talks about those who have faith being counted as righteous or justified.  The term “counted” there is an accounting type word and it has the idea of something being reckoned or credited to an account.  So, it is helpful to think of Christ being the one who has an account which is filled with righteousness and we are able to draw upon that account.

This means that when Christians ask for anything in the name of Jesus, we recognise that he is the one who has authority and ownership over those things.  Therefore he is the one who has power and authority to give them to us.

[1] Acts 19:15.

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