Thursday, November 7, 2013

Power in the Name


Luanne Oleas shares this story -- When the 1960s ended, San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district reverted to high rent, and many hippies moved down the coast to Santa Cruz. They had children and got married, too, though in no particular sequence. But they didn't name their children Melissa or Brett. People in the mountains around Santa Cruz grew accustomed to their children playing Frisbee with little Time Warp or Spring Fever. And eventually Moonbeam, Earth, Love and Precious Promise all ended up in public school. That's when the kindergarten teachers first met Fruit Stand. Every fall, according to tradition, parents bravely apply name tags to their children, kiss them good-bye and send them off to school on the bus. So it was for Fruit Stand. The teachers thought the boy's name was odd, but they tried to make the best of it. "Would you like to play with the blocks, Fruit Stand?" they offered. And later, "Fruit Stand, how about a snack?" He accepted hesitantly. By the end of the day, his name didn't seem much more unique than Heather's or Sun Ray's. At dismissal time, the teachers led the children out to the buses. "Fruit Stand, do you know which one is your bus?" He didn't answer. That wasn't strange. He hadn't answered them all day. A lot of children are shy on the first day of school. It didn't matter. The teachers had instructed the parents to write the names of their children's bus stops on the reverse side of their name tags. The teacher simply turned over the tag. There, neatly printed, was the word "Anthony." Aaah, oh well. The lessons we learn, right? Names are important, as they more closely identify us than anything else we own.

So, it is with this in mind that we further come to understand the unique relationship between the Father and the Son here in John 17:6-12…and how the Son carries the name of the Father. The Old Testament Jew knew God has Jehovah, the Great I AM (Exodus 3:11-14). Jesus takes the sacred name I AM and makes it not only personal, but meaningful for His disciples. “I AM the Bread of Life” (John 6:35), “I AM the Light of the World” (John 8:12), “I AM the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11) all reveal that Jesus is everything that they need. But, the Father’s name includes much more than this, for Jesus also teaches His disciples that God, the Great I AM, is their Heavenly Father. “The Father” is used 53 times in John 13-17, and 122 times in John’s gospel. We get the picture as to who is in the picture here. Jesus makes it clear, repeatedly, that it is the Father who sent Him, that He is equal to the Father, and that His words and works come from the Father. He makes a clear claim to the fact that He is deity, but they refuse to believe. By saying that He has “manifested the name of the Father”, He reveals the very nature of God. One of the ministries of the Son is to declare the Father (John 1:18, 14:7ff). It is through His living the life of service, that He gradually…by His words and deeds…reveals the nature of His Father in a way that they are able to more readily grasp it.

It is because we believe in the name of God and the power of salvation that comes in His Son, that we understand that we, as believers, have safety. Peter and John believed in this, as they proclaimed the power of the name of Jesus is Acts 3-4. God took care of them. God takes care of His own people. The Father purchased us through His Son, and He is not going to allow us to have to fend for ourselves. As we discussed in chapter sixteen, God gives to us His Holy Spirit to guide and protect us in our walk with Him. Furthermore, God’s people are the Father’s gift to His Son. Would the Father present His Son with a gift that would not last? Whenever you feel down or as if the Lord has somehow forgotten you, read Romans 8:28-39. The Father is near…He is present…He cares for us and what is going on in our lives. The Spirit helps us to understand better the presence of the Father for us and through us.

We come back to the theme of glory once again. With all of their faults and failures, the disciples still receive this word of commendation – that Jesus is glorified in them. As I mentioned last week, we need a Savior, because we are going to blow it, we make mistakes, we sin. But, the Lord God knows this. This is why He would send his Son to rescue us from ourselves. And no one can take this away from us. Once we have received salvation in Christ, the only way that we cannot have it is to walk away from it. We must be faithful to Him who called us out of the darkness and into His glorious light.

Finally, we have fellowship and unity (v.11)…a theme that He is going to come back to shortly. Wherever we find saints, we find fellowship. We have the most important thing, and in this case, the most important person in the world in common – Jesus Christ. The Father knew that we would need one another. After washing their feet and up until the time of His crucifixion, Jesus knows that they are going to face trying times and that they are going to need one another. We are able to be overcomers in this life, because we share in the life of the One who has overcome sin, flesh and even death itself. So, even though one day we are going to die, it will be as if passing through a gate from one form of spiritual/eternal existence to another. Jesus is going to be waiting for us, by the power and authority of the name of His Father. What a marvelous thing!

Bruce Larson, in Believe and Belong, tells how he helped people struggling to surrender their lives to Christ: "For many years I worked in New York City and counseled at my office any number of people who were wrestling with this yes-or-no decision. Often I would suggest they walk with me from my office down to the RCA Building on Fifth Avenue. In the entrance of that building is a gigantic statue of Atlas, a beautifully proportioned man who, with all his muscles straining, is holding the world upon his shoulders. There he is, the most powerfully built man in the world, and he can barely stand up under this burden. 'Now that's one way to live,' I would point out to my companion, 'trying to carry the world on your shoulders. But now come across the street with me.' "On the other side of Fifth Avenue is Saint Patrick's Cathedral, and there behind the high altar is a little shrine of the boy Jesus, perhaps eight or nine years old, and with no effort he is holding the world in one hand. My point was illustrated graphically. "We have a choice. We can carry the world on our shoulders, or we can say, 'I give up, Lord; here's my life. I give you my world, the whole world.'"

In a sense, this is the message that Jesus is sharing with His disciples…then and now. You and I can try to take on the world, put it all on our shoulders and see how long we are able to bear up…or, we can let it go. We can trust in the power of the name of God, and the authority of the name of Jesus to take care of us. It is in the strength and power found in Jesus that we are going to find victory and overcome this world, religious trappings, and other matters that seek to weigh us down. There is a song that came out recently that really captures this wonderful thought, and I fell in love with it quickly, because it helps us to gain some perspective on life. It is called “Just Say Jesus.”

Blessings, Don

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