Thursday, April 14, 2011

Powerful name

"Triumphal entry into Jerusalem" 
- Alexandre Bida

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 118:1-29

TO CHEW ON: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." Psalm 118:26

Parts of Psalm 118 were what the "very great multitude" shouted as Jesus approached the city riding on a donkey - the event we now celebrate as Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:1-10). Those crowds recognized the prophetic scene painted in Psalm 118 as Jesus entered Jerusalem's gates:
"Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I will go through them....
This is the gate of the Lord
Through which the righteous shall enter" - Psalm 118:19,20.

Their shout "Hosanna" is the Hebrew rendering of "Save now" (Psalm 118:25). Their chant, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" is a direct quote from Psalm 118:26.

Their declaration that Jesus came "in the name of the Lord" is weighty with meaning. Daniel Henderson in his book Transforming Prayer devotes a whole chapter to exploring "the name of the Lord." Here are some bits that help us understand what the crowds were shouting that day and what we do when we invoke that powerful name:

"The 'name of the Lord' represents more than a title for God. It is the essence of His identity and character revealed to the hearts of men....

Throughout His ministry Jesus brought great clarity to us about His character and identity by declaring His unique names....He excited worship, for example, with the 'I am' statements made in the gospel of John:
  • 'I am the resurrection had they life' (John 11:25).
  • 'I am the way, the truth, and the life' (John 14:6).

Later the New Testament books will explode additional truths about our Christ, telling us that He is the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8), the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), the chief cornerstone of the household of God (Ephesians 2:20), the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22), the very Word of the God (Revelation 19:13), and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16)" - Daniel Henderson, Transforming Prayer, p. 127-129.

Obviously the Jerusalem crowd didn't recognize Jesus in all His fullness. For only days later another crowd shouted "Crucify Him!" But we, with all of the Bible at our disposal, can now see the depth of meaning and power in "the name of the Lord." And it is on the strength of that name (which we often invoke so casually) that Jesus promises God the Father will answer our prayers:
"23 At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name.24 You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy" - John 16:23-24 NLT.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for coming to earth to be the incarnation of all that God is. Help me to begin to comprehend the massiveness of this, and understand the privilege it is to be able to pray in Your name. Amen.

MORE: Praying in the name of Christ

"To pray in the Name of Christ is to pray as one who is at one with Christ, whose mind is the mind of Christ, whose desires are the desires of Christ, and whose purpose is one with that of Christ. Prayers offered in the Name of Christ are scrutinized and sanctified by His nature, His purpose, and His will. Prayer is endorsed by the Name when it is in harmony with the character, mind, desire and purpose of the Name" - Samuel Chadwick (The Path of Prayer, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1936, p. 52) quoted in Transforming Prayer, p.131.

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