And jumps, thank you very much.
And praises a God whom he’s just recently met.
This man had spent every day of his life asking others for money as they go into the Temple, a place he wasn’t allowed to enter. But on this day, instead of getting a few pennies, he got legs. And so he did what anybody would do.
He runs in. After a lifetime of being out, he’s now in. It’s breathtaking.
And it all happens because someone prayed “in the name of Jesus.”
For most of my life, I have prayed prayers like this, and have been taught to pray “in the name of Jesus.” To be honest, I have had mixed results. What does it mean to pray “in the name of Jesus?”
Is it a magic wand for getting what we want? Do we have to say it really loud? Or really soft? Or a certain amount of times? Or in a southern accent?
It’s not a magic wand.
I have come to believe that before healing, preaching, or doing anything else, the bottom line for Jesus was this: He simply had an unwavering belief that he could do nothing on his own, and an unflagging commitment to doing only what he saw God doing (John 5:19). The vulnerability of this way of living is so striking that it’s hard to look at; like something that’s altogether too bright. Unlike wielding a magic wand to get what you want, it’s coming empty handed and depending on God for everything. In the garden, Jesus prays, “Not my will, but yours be done.” This is a prayer that is filled with power because it is empty of agenda.
When we begin to approach that kind of dependence, we are living in the name of Jesus. And paradoxically, in our dependence, a power is available from God to do things that we could never do.
And that’s the pattern we see in Acts 3. Peter tells this disabled man, “I don’t have any money. What I do have, I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Peter knew what he didn’t have; he knew what he couldn’t do. But he knew what he did have, and it was so much bigger than anything he could ever have done on his own.
To do something “in the name of Jesus” doesn’t mean that you can do anything you want as long as you tack the name of Jesus to the end of your prayer (even if it’s a good thing). It means you’re carrying with you something that is bigger than you. It means that you have decided that whatever God wants done is what you want done. And we get there inch by inch, prayer by prayer, confession by confession.
Last weekend, I gave a talk on that text. If you have 25 minutes, have a look. Enjoy.