The name of Jesus is not a ‘talisman’

Using the phrase “in the name of Jesus,” has become a Christian catchphrase that cannot be ignored in any prayer, declaration, decree, preaching, event, sermon, etc. For many years, it has been believed that this phrase has a certain mystical or powerful charge in the spiritual world, and its misuse can cause prayers to be ineffective, or simply ignored by God.

This belief has been built from biblical texts such as John 14:13, in which Jesus invites his listeners to make requests in his name so that they may be answered. Along those lines, there are a few: John 16:23-24, John 14:14, John 15:16, John 20:31, Colossians 3:17, 1 Corinthians 1:2, Matthew 7:22-23, Acts 4 :12, among others.

The issue of the name has a very complex connotation in the Jewish context. This denotes the identity of the person who carried it beyond the simple exercise of recognition of the individual in the midst of society. There are also some biblical examples of this.

“No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.” Genesis 17:5

In this story, it is God who changes the name of the patriarch, so that in the memories of the people it is clear that this will no longer be an exalted father, but a father of multitudes (Biblica. NVI, Food Notes. 1999).

Jesus himself does the same in the middle of the encounter with whom one of his closest disciples would be.

“And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter)” John 1:42

The life of this new follower is characterized by his volatility, a sentimental, reactionary, daring, impertinent, and vulgar man who was receiving words of affirmation directly from Jesus through his name, which, curiously, also received, with the passage of time, a mystical connotation.

The name(s) of God is not exempt from this. Every time the Divine manifests any of God’s characteristics, God is named through those characteristics. There are several examples. One of them is when God provides Abraham with a lamb for the sacrifice in place of his son Issac. (Genesis 22:13-14)

The same happens with various names of God, such as Shaddai, Olam, Eyón, Elohe, Elohim, Emmanuel, Mekaddesh, Nissi, Rafa, Rohi, Sabaot, Shalom, etc.

In this context, God becomes human and is recognized by the name Jesus, which means God saves, or, God is my salvation. Much has been written and believed about what exactly it means for God to save us. What did God save us from?

This being the case, it is then necessary to understand that in order to know the identity of Jesus reflected in his name, it is necessary to know him. 

Well, as I have already mentioned, the name reveals the person, their actions, thoughts, reactions, ways of acting in different situations.If we want to know Jesus, we must inevitably turn to the gospels, which give us a testimony of his time on earth and will give us the guide to be able to ask the right questions to the biblical text.

So, what if doing things in the name of Jesus is not reduced to uttering a phrase in the middle of each prayer or act of worship that we perform? It means that we should know him and act as he would, as he did. 

It means thinking the same Jesus’ thoughts more carefully and living according to his words and recommendations on how to do so. Having life in the name of Jesus could mean living his life and giving the life he taught. Praying in the name of Jesus could mean that we empower our prayers with the life that we have received from him and that we live every day. Speaking in the name of Jesus requires having his words in our mouths, while we do what he did, nothing more and nothing less.

The name of Jesus is not a talisman and what if saying the phrase “in the name of Jesus” is not going to act miraculously just for the sake of it? But rather, it invites us to be the walking miracle, to love those who do not deserve love, to touch the unwanted, to embrace the needy, and to be bread and wine for the hungry.

That is the reason why we do not receive what we ask for, because we do not do it in the name of Jesus. We want for ourselves, but what we ask for is not in line with his character, the use that he would give to what we long for, but we ask for our own good, obeying our selfish interests, the evil of our hearts.

It is of no use to us to utter the phrase “in the name of Jesus,” when we do not actually live or act in the name of Jesus. He himself warns it in the gospel:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Matthew 7:21-23


PS. David Gaitan

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