In Jesus Name?
“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us…” 2 Cor. 5: 20.
Paul saw believers as ambassadors for Christ and His kingdom. He believed that the lives of believers should represent the life of Jesus and of His kingdom. I happen to agree with him.
When I think about an ambassador, I think of a person, sent to a foreign country to represent and conduct business on behalf of their own nation. They are in good standing with their home country and have been given the authority from their government to act in place of their highest governmental officials.
Christians have been given the authority (and responsibility) to represent the kingdom of heaven while we are here on earth. Addressing His disciples about this, He told them “all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” Immediately after that, He commissioned them to go out and make new disciples. He gave them the same authority that He had been given by God. Let that sink in for a minute. God gave Jesus the authority of both heaven and earth, meaning that He had the ability to come to earth with the power of heaven’s government to influence earth’s governments and the kingdom of darkness. Then, He gave that very same authority to His disciples. Not only did he give them the same authority, but He also gave them the charge to train others as ambassadors and pass that authority to them! The authority of heaven to influence earth has been given to every believer, along with the commission to teach and empower other believers.
Imagine for a minute: you’re in a governmental meeting where an ambassador of the United States is in the office of a foreign government official. Once introduced, the foreign official and the ambassador know each other’s responsibilities and the level of authority that each has been given. How ridiculous would it sound if the ambassador repeated “In the name of the United States of America” after every item discussed requiring his authority?
So, what did Jesus mean when He said “anything that you ask in my name, I will do it?”
Did He mean that He’d grant any request, without limit, as long as we say “in Jesus name?” Believe me, I have heard that preached, and it’s the furthest thing from the actual message that Jesus was giving.
“Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also… and whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:12-14
I cannot count the number of times that I’ve heard, sometimes with great emphasis, the words “in JEEEEEESUS name” thrown into prayer. I also notice that there’s a sense that the more it is emphasised, the better the chance that Jesus will respond favorably. I don’t necessarily think that there’s anything wrong with saying that, but contextually, that’s not really what Jesus was saying. Many people have been taught that adding the words “in Jesus Name” to their prayer is their guarantee to getting their prayers answered. Jesus was not promoting himself as a witch with a spell to grant requests. “In Jesus name” is not a magic phrase, and Jesus never intended for His name to be prostituted as such.
If we look at this passage in the context that Jesus spoke it, we see a much different picture than what is generally painted from the pulpits of America.
First of all, let’s look at who Jesus is speaking to. He is not addressing the multitudes of believers, but to the very few who have followed Him very closely. They’ve been taught by Him and He has empowered them to invoke the governmental rule of heaven over the powers of darkness.
Second, He is referring to governmental (kingdom) work. Jesus prayed “on earth as it is in heaven” and then He went about the work of bringing the rule of the government of heaven into the rule of darkness over the earth.
Third, Jesus understood the role of the ambassador. When He said “whatever you ask in my name…” He did not mean for them (or us) to actually say “in Jesus name” when we asked things of Him. He was speaking to them as ambassadors, who would be standing in His place, to do the work of the kingdom. The best way to understand this is: I will give you anything you need when you’re standing in representation of Me and My kingdom, to help you in establishing My kingdom’s rule and reign.
My fourth and final point is that Jesus had a mission in His work, which was to bring glory to the Father. He said that He would do what we ask, in His name, to glorify the Father. This point seems to be missed very often in pulpit teachings, books and other forms of preaching media, as the prosperity gospel has manipulated the message. I’ve heard pastors twist this passage so badly. People end up believing that they can ask for anything and say “in Jesus name” and then Jesus owes it to them to fulfill their wish because that’s what the Bible says. Friends, that was not the message that Jesus preached. I’m not telling you “don’t say ‘in Jesus name.’” I’m saying that, widely, I believe Christianity has done believers a disservice in teaching that we can ask anything, say “in Jesus name” and be granted answered prayers. Contextually, that is clearly not the message.
From what I’ve seen, the church largely neglects our position as ambassadors. It seems that we want the perks that come with the position without actually living out the work of the kingdom that we’re supposed to be representing. I want to encourage you to really spend some time considering what Jesus meant when He spoke to his followers regarding the use of His name; standing in place of Him, representing His kingdom. If we begin to live “in Jesus name” as ambassadors of heaven, we’ll see an increase in answered prayer. I don’t know about you, but I believe that when Jesus prayed “on earth as it is in heaven” He meant it, and he meant it to be accomplished for us and with us while we’re here to enjoy it. If the body of Christ will simply take the responsibility of being ambassadors for the kingdom that we say we belong to, I believe we’ll see Jesus’ prayer become a reality in our lifetime.