Sunday, May 22nd, 2022

In the Name

Sixth Sunday of Easter [c]                                          May 22, 2022


JOHN 16:23-33

23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. 25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” 29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”




If we listed the ten most commonly misused Bible verses, this text from John 16 would be there. Jesus said,

Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

[John 16:23]


Ask for a new TV, or a new truck, or a healthy doctor visit—it doesn’t matter. So long as it’s in Jesus’ Name, you’re good.


To misuse a text of Scripture, often all you need to do is quote it out of context. But to get a text of Scripture really wrong, don’t just leave out the fuller context—Go full blast and turn Gospel into Law.


Gospel: the good news that Christ died for your sins; that the sinner is justified freely by grace. Law: what you must do; what you are guilty of in your sinful flesh; what you stand accused of before God.


So Scripture will give a gift. Say, Ephesians 2:8:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.


How can that possibly be turned into Law? Easy. Just say that faith is a decision you make. Or say that faith is your obedience to God’s word. Presto, what was grace, Gospel, is now Law, something for you to do.



How do you turn this Gospel into Law? Jesus said,

Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

[John 16:23]


Now let’s hear the Law come!


Do you want something? Ask for it in Jesus’ Name and the Father will give it to you. What do you want? Do you want a promotion at work, more success? A better grade in Algebra? Ask for it in Jesus’ Name.


But what if you end your prayer with the Name of Jesus but you don’t get the promotion or the Algebra grade?


Now you will hear some real Law. It works like this. You prayed for the promotion or for the grade in Jesus’ Name, yet nothing changed? What’s wrong with you? You obviously didn’t pray hard enough. Your prayer wasn’t heartfelt. You weren’t sweating tears of blood like Jesus did when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.


That’s the Law at work. Accusing. You didn’t pray well enough.


How will you keep up with the Law on this one?


Or if it’s not something wrong with your mechanics of praying, maybe it’s your faith. You prayed in the Name of Jesus, but you didn’t have strong enough faith. Have stronger faith, then your prayer will be answered.


Since you prayed in the Name of Jesus and didn’t get what you wanted, the Law obviously has an accusation against you.



Returning to the words of Jesus.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.”


Jesus isn’t speaking Law; he’s speaking promise. His Name is gift—no magic abracadabra to trick God. With Jesus, his Name is pure gift to the sinner.


So the Holy Spirit gathers the Lord’s people to his Name. This is called the Church—sinners called to the Name of Jesus.


So here we are. Sunday morning, gathered together by the Holy Spirit—gathered to the Name of Jesus.



Matthew 18:20:

[Jesus said,] “where two or three have been gathered together to my name, there I am in their midst.”


This comes with what the Lord told the Israelites, Exodus 20:24:

[The Lord said,] “In every place where I cause my name to be remembered, there I will come to you and bless you.”


With the Lord’s Name, there’s location—time and place. The Lord sees his people on Earth in their sin, in their fear of death, and he locates himself in the midst of them to bless them, to cleanse them of all sin, to bring them into life. He locates himself among them by setting his Name there.


Where the Lord sets his Name, he promises to be. By his Name he’s giving an oath to you.


His Name includes the proclamation of who he is and what he has done to save his people. His Name includes all that he promises in the Gospel, so that where he sets his Name, there we will find all his people gathered for the cleansing of all sin and fellowship with him.


“Where two or three have been gathered together to my name, there I am in their midst.”


It’s the proclamation of the Gospel; it’s the gift of Baptism given a little child; it’s the Body and Blood of Jesus handed out to those he gathers to himself.


We call it the Divine Service, or just plain, going-to-church-on-Sunday-morning. But it is Jesus gathering his Christians to his Name which belongs to them by Baptism.



And now Jesus says to us,

Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

[John 16:23]


It’s the Name, so we know it’s the Gospel. But what is “in the Name.” The Name Jesus is a Hebrew word. It means, The Lord Saves.


So the Name of Jesus is the Lord coming to the sinner to save. It’s the Lord forgiving sins. It’s the Lord cleansing the conscience and setting the sinner at peace with the Father. The Name of Jesus—it’s what he did on the cross, and it’s what he does now to bring that cross to us in his Word and Sacraments.


That which is in the Name of Jesus is, in short and in total, the forgiveness of your sins. He didn’t go to the cross for me to have a new truck. A new truck may be something he will give me in the way of this world, but he didn’t die for that. He didn’t die for the Broncos to win, nor for any other type of earthly success I may hope to grasp.


He died for sins. Your sins, my sins, the sins of our family, our neighbor’s sins.


That which is in the Name of Jesus is the conscience cleansed, the sinner made to stand before the Father in honor.


Whatever you ask the Father in my Name,

says Jesus,

he will give to you.


So we ask for all the things of the Name. Forgive us our sins, we ask. The Father forgives. Forgive those who sin against us, we ask. The Father sets us as his servants to speak his forgiveness to those who sin against us.


Cleanse us,

we ask.

We’re in a dirty world of neighbor accusing neighbor, a world of fear and despair, cleanse us of all this.

And the Father sends forth the Holy Spirit to call, gather, and enlighten us by the Gospel.


Rescue us from the torment of the demons, we ask, deliver us from the Evil one. And the Father brings us to the Table of his Son’s Body and Blood for the forgiveness of our sins, so that the demons have no more accusation with which to terrify us, and we are rescued.


Give us the gifts of your Son’s Name, we ask, and the Father calls us into his congregation and gives us every good gift for which he sent his Son forth.



We are the people of sins-forgiven, of cleansed consciences, of life everlasting, the people of the Gospel, for that’s what it means to proclaim the Name of Jesus.


We are the people of Christ Jesus—no gift of his Name is withheld from us.


He gathers us to his Name to give us all his gifts of the cross. That’s why the Lord’s Service starts with the Holy Name being spoken onto his people, when the pastor says,

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


Hearing that invocation, the Lord’s people know that they have been gathered for the gifts of the Name.