In The Name Of Jesus
by Matthew Cramer
“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
— Romans 8:37 RSV
It’s difficult to say precisely how much authority and power Adam and Eve lost because of sin. We know it was horrendous. Our emotions, appetites, desires and egos are difficult to control. Nature is our enemy in natural disasters, disease, and threats from animals and other species. We are plagued by deceptions and accusations from Evil (see The Train Wreck Of Humanity, and How Satan Gets To Us).
This second part in our series about Power and Authority, assumes the reader is familiar with the first part, Overarching Care. This part explores how the New Life we receive from Jesus, restores and goes beyond God’s original delegation of authority and power to Adam and Eve.
Successfully making our way through the gauntlet of life to achieve our destined inheritance is significantly imperiled because our natural authority and power has been abridged. But when the Second Person of The Trinity, The Word, incarnated with mankind, things changed (see What Jesus Did):
- Mankind was joined to God in a way far superior to our original created relationship.
- Jesus redeemed us from our broken condition by taking into His death all the penalty and offense from the first sin.
- As the New Adam, Jesus revealed a New Life that is available for each of us through Baptism in water and spirit.
“[Nicodemus] came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (Jn 3:2-6 RSV)
The New Life Jesus lived, demonstrated the fullness of authority and power given Him by the Father. He lived a life of obedience to The Father even in the most difficult temptations, and especially in His painful crucifixion. He demonstrated right order amongst the emotions, desires, appetites, ego, intellect and will in His humanity. He exercised power over nature. He turned water into wine, healed the sick, raised people from the dead, and cast demons out.
These signs and many others revealed He was both God and Man. They proclaimed the Kingdom is at hand — God is with us, Emmanuel (See Where Are The Signs And Wonders?). Jesus demonstrated His authority and power to be an integral feature of the New Life, and available to those who are initiated and follow Him as disciples. They are the people who love Him, and choose Him as Lord of their lives. They follow His values, model themselves on His character traits, seek out and follow His teachings, and stay in constant contact through the Holy Spirit.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” (Jn 14:12-14 RSV)
“…If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (Jn 14:23-26 RSV)
Through His resurrection and the Holy Spirit’s arrival, Jesus delegated His authority and power to His disciples, along with their commissioning.
“And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mk 16:17,18 RSV)“
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mt 28:18-20 RSV)
But hold on! There is another, very important revelation about using this authority and power. While it’s available to us through the New Life, it’s not released to our sole discretion. It must be used “in the name of Jesus”.
Even after we are initiated into the New Life, we must still contend with our Adamic DNA, making choices that release and transform us moment by moment into the fullness of New Life (see Embracing Conflict With Hope). To put such authority and power at the hands of mankind’s fallen nature is a prescription for disaster. Thus, Jesus directs the mantle of His authority be used only in His name. So — let’s now examine what it means to do something “in the name of Jesus”.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
The Genesis narrative reveals that man’s first use of authority and power was to name all the living creatures.
“So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.” (Ge 2:19 RSV)
You might say, ”What’s the big deal?” It’s a very big deal because the Hebrew meaning of “name”, as used in the scriptures, is far more comprehensive than the offhand labels or cutesy identification tags we give our children when they’re born.
Scholars tell us that a Hebrew name represents the essence of what is named: God’s intent for its creation, its capabilities, its purpose, how it fits into the broader scheme of creation, and so on. When Adam named every creature, he was able to encounter the depth of its being, every aspect of its creation, and invent an appropriate name that represented the creature’s essence.
In a similar fashion, Hebrew names for people came to represent their parents’ anticipation of the child’s unique characteristics and purpose in creation. For example: Abraham means “the father of many”, Emmanuel means “God is with us”, John means “YAHWEH is gracious”, and so on.
It is believed by many, even today, that The Holy Spirit guides parents in naming their children, however unaware they may be. Still, given some of the weird names for babies today — Audio Science, Pilot Inspektor, Sage Moonblood, etc. — it seems obvious some parents are more interested in fad or attention, than the Holy Spirit’s input. Nevertheless, I am convinced through personal experience, there’s a spiritual connection between an individual’s creation, and his name.
I was named a Junior after my father, Matthew John Cramer. My parents divorced early because of major dysfunctions in my father’s character. My mother moved in with her parents and went to work; so essentially, my grandparents raised my sister and me.
The adults were fearful that, because I was a junior, there was significant risk I would turn out like my father. So they gave me a nickname, “Peter” — after the cartoon figure Peter Rabbit (forgive my gagging). This morphed into “Petie” when I was little, then to Pete when I grew up. The only connection between Pete and Matthew John Cramer, Jr. was in the engraving on the back of my watch, and the necessity to use my real name in my security clearance papers.
Ruth Ann never called me Pete. Even after years of marriage, she still wouldn’t call me Pete. She called me honey, sweetheart, darling (she’s from the South), lover, husband, and so on (dummy came later – just kidding Ruth Ann). In my mid-forties, Ruth Ann and I went to Ireland for a conference. This raised the issue of passport, and birth certificate.
My father had died and, in keeping with custom, I dropped the “Junior”. So the name on the passport turned out to be Matthew John Cramer. Because we were in a touring group, my passport name was entered on all the paperwork for touring busses, hotels, badges, etc.
All my attempts to keep alive the connection between my legal name and “Pete” only confused things. People were frustrated when Matthew was not present on the bus (because he didn’t answer to that name); but Pete was; except Pete was not on the official list. So I quickly began answering to Matthew. After two weeks of this, I was somewhat comfortable with Matthew, and beginning to like the sound.
Several days after our return, people who had been on the trip with us, still called me Matthew. I was surprised at how good it felt. It was as though they were speaking directly to my being, instead of using a handle or a label. I took it to prayer, did some research on the meaning of names and decided to forever drop Pete, Peter, and especially Petie.
Let’s be clear: I have no disrespect, or disregard for the name Pete and Peter. The name, Peter, is used in the Bible, carries powerful tradition in the Church, and has positive reputation in our society. But, attaching those names to me represented a rejection from the get-go.
Ruth Ann was ecstatic. Finally, she had a name to call me that truly represented the man she knew. Saying it, gave her joy. My old names, Peter and Pete, have long since been retired. They are never mentioned. To this day, thirty-plus years later, whenever someone calls me Matthew, it resonates within me and ministers peace. The name, Matthew John, fits like a comfortable, well-worn glove that touches me, inside and out.
IN THE NAME OF JESUS
I cite the Hebrew meaning of “name” as used in the scriptures, and my own personal experience, to emphasize that doing something “in the name of Jesus” means a lot more than just name dropping, or using a badge of some kind. Here is one of my favorite scriptures that illustrates the point:
“And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, mastered all of them, and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” (Ac 19:11-16 RSV)
I suspect the Jewish exorcists were trying to acquire another instrument for their bag of tricks; one that seemed quite effective, no doubt — maybe even better than the ones they used. But they thought of it as a formula, a recitation, a set of words that had magical powers, as long as the name “Jesus” was included. For all they knew, that’s all that should be required.
The evil spirit reveals a very significant point. He did not “know” them. There was something about Jesus and Paul he recognized, something the exorcists didn’t have. Jesus, the Son of God and the New Adam, had His own mantle of authority. The evil spirit clearly acknowledged that. The evil spirit also recognized Paul’s mantle of authority and power, and its lineage to Jesus. Finally, the evil spirit knew that none of the seven sons of Sceva had any real relationship with Jesus, so they had no authority and power over him. Being evil, the demon fell on them and they fled “naked and wounded”.
BEING A DISCIPLE
Of course we know that, as a man, Jesus’ authority and power comes from being the Son of God Incarnated; living the New Life His Father called for; and achieving His victory over Satan and his followers, culminating in the Crucifixion and Resurrection. But, how did Paul get a delegation from Jesus’ mantle? Well, Paul was a disciple of Jesus in the fullest sense of the meaning. He had a personal encounter with Jesus, listened to Him, developed a deep relationship with Him, and had been acting on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for some time (“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you” 1Co 11:23 RSV).
A disciple’s life flows from the New Life Jesus lived; the same life He passes on at Baptism. The disciple is aligned with the teachings, values and character of his Lord and Master. The lines of communication between them are open and broad. The disciple puts on Jesus’ mantle of authority and power, and takes his place in the Kingdom’s mission. He executes his responsibilities in family, work, church, government and other legitimate pursuits, using the gifts bestowed on him by the Holy Spirit. The fruit of his efforts announces, “The Kingdom Of God is at hand” (see Where Are The Signs And Wonders?).
The depth of our discipleship is shallow when we are first initiated into the New Life, and hopefully, grows deeper during years of exposure to the vicissitudes of life. Throughout those days, we are offered many choices — all essentially between self and God. With the right choices, we accept transformation into the character of Jesus. The wrong choices just inflate our own egos (see Embracing Conflict With Hope).
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you … put off the old nature with its practices and … put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Col 3:5, 9-10 RSV)
“All of us, gazing with unveiled faces on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2Co 3:18 NAB)
Thus, the degree of authority and power resident in our spiritual mantle is directly related to the depth of our discipleship. As our discipleship grows over time, so too does our spiritual mantle. We must be sensitive to our progress so we don’t get ahead of The Lord. In the 1970’s, before Times Square was cleaned up, Bob Mumford (a popular preacher and teacher for the Charismatic Renewal) said: “If you’re gonna go to Times Square and throw out all the spirits of lust, you better have something under the hood!”
The mantle of Jesus’ authority and power is always available to be used by His disciples. It should always be “on the table”, never put aside for reasons of fear or inexperience. Still, there are many variations, many degrees and possible applications in both the sacred and the secular. Whether or not to use them, and in what manner, is largely an issue of discernment (See The Gift Of Discernment).
Here are a few basic points that, in our experience, have a significant influence on a successful outcome:
- What is your relationship with Jesus? — If your relationship is just getting started, we don’t recommend confronting very difficult circumstances. It’s best in those cases to join with another disciple(s) to pool the authority of your respective mantles.
If you’ve been close to The Lord a while, but are presently a “backslider” or in serious sin, it’s best to first get your relationship with Jesus on a good footing, before attempting significant exercises of Jesus’ authority. Catholics are especially blessed to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, of which I am a regular recipient. The graces received are always necessary and helpful.
- What is your legitimate responsibility in the situation? — In addition to the depth of your discipleship with Jesus, there is a direct correlation between your legitimate responsibility in a situation, and the degree of authority and power delegated by Him. Parents, for example, have considerable spiritual authority in the lives of their young children. However, as the children grow and become more personally responsible before God, the parents’ authority becomes more petitional and less authoritative. Once the child is on his own, perhaps married and living apart, the parents’ authority is significantly reduced. But it is never reduced to zero, especially in the area of spiritual warfare and petition.
At work, the supervisor, manager or executive has considerable spiritual authority over the areas for which they are held accountable. But the spiritual authority is limited to issues regarding the organization, not the personal lives of the employees. Thus, spiritual warfare to protect the department they manage is very effective, and so are petitional efforts for a release of faith, wisdom, talents, and peace in the organization. But authority in individuals’ lives at work is very limited — consistent with the unspoken contract between boss and worker: “my work is yours, my life is mine”.
- Do you have experience or training in the situation? — This is probably the most difficult area to discuss. Using Jesus’ mantle of authority is not a trivial issue. Naturally, we don’t want to get in over our heads, or be reckless in our endeavors. But we have few resources or the experience of others’ to draw on, as we face our vicissitudes.
Much is written about business management, parenting and religious life. But very little is written about using Jesus’ mantle of authority at work, using wise secular principles to run a religious organization, or how a judge, a governor, a legislator, policeman, teacher and so on, uses spiritual principles in concert with secular responsibilities.
In any given situation, the responsible party has to assess what is the size and nature of the situation, what is the best plan of attack, and then execute that plan. But lacking experience or training, we aren’t sure what efforts are needed: spiritual protection; peace; elimination of a disruptive influence; more training; more resources; all of the above; or what? When all is new to us, the prospects of success can be significantly reduced.
Nevertheless, we are dunked into these situations. Most of us are neophytes as we try to integrate our spiritual life with our secular responsibilities. To navigate these shoals we have to: (1) Develop a thirst for wisdom about how to integrate our sacred and secular lives, (2) Face the issues we confront, and resist the temptation to disintegrate them into ubiquitous, spiritual and secular categories, and (3) Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to carefully expand our envelope of experience.
- The Lord honors the faith of His people — Using the authority of Jesus can be very intimidating for some, causing us to hang back and not use it sufficiently. For others, the authority of Jesus can be very heady stuff and easily feeds our pride, causing us to go on excessive power trips.
We have to keep reminding ourselves that Jesus’ mantle is never our authority. It is always His. But we are the ones who are delegated to use it in our legitimate responsibilities so that “we may lead quiet and peaceable lives” and “all men [can] be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Thus, while maintaining a healthy respect for Jesus’ mantle, we must strive to develop a comfort-level for its wise and proper use. The first three bullets are helpful indicators or rules of thumb to help us avoid major mistakes. But they have a common problem. People like me have a tendency to turn them into rules, with calibrated levels of perfection. For example, unless you can qualify, say at Level 8 in your discipleship, you must not attempt to use Our Lord’s mantle.
This approach, of course, tends to exclude just about everyone, except those convinced they are already at Level 9. Thus, very few disciples venture even timidly into the unknown and experience The Lord’s mantle at work. A stifling effect accumulates, the power and blessing of Our Lord’s authority is repressed from common knowledge, and few are motivated to use it.
Our solution to this conundrum is to keep the focus on Our Lord. He is a loving Brother and Savior who has commissioned us to bring the world into the Kingdom. We are directed to use all of the tools at our disposal to execute our responsibilities, stay close to Him, and help others do the same. He honors the faithfulness of His people.
He is not going to leave us twisting in the wind before problems we aren’t empowered to solve. When we are neophytes and timidly expanding our spiritual envelope, He’s not going to jump out from behind a bush and say, “Ah Ha! I caught you. You messed up and now you’ll be punished.”
When we go too far and mess up (and we will), He knows how to fix things and teach us where we need to grow. If we hold back, He knows how to give us a kick in the rear. In none of this, will we experience accusation and guilt. Instead, we may confidently expect love, acceptance, forgiveness, and wisdom.
It was a sunny, summer afternoon in the mid-west. Ruth Ann and I were being escorted by a Real Estate agent to evaluate a house she wanted to sell us. The neighborhood was clean, well kept, and quiet. The homes were well maintained, and the properties well landscaped.
Arriving at the selected home, I noticed with amusement, three dogs contentedly and lazily sunning themselves on their respective front lawns. They paid us little attention. We pulled into the driveway, got out and entered the house.
After going through the rooms, remarking on this and that, I decided to go out the kitchen door and explore the yard. I had walked about 35 or 40 feet toward the back corner when I became aware of a rapidly increasing sense of danger. Something was not right. I stopped and carefully turned to survey the situation. The scene that greeted me was filled with danger, and fear washed over me.
The three dogs, who’d been lazily sunning themselves when we arrived, were now moving in a straight line, one behind the other, heading directly for me. They’d already crossed the street, passed through the side yards between the houses, and entered the back yard. All three moved slowly and deliberately, crouched into an attack posture.
Their ears were laid back; the hair on the back of their necks was fully raised; and their teeth were clearly visible in a threatening grimace. The lead and largest dog was emitting a steady growl as they slunk toward us.
The Real Estate lady had just left the kitchen and stood on the porch. Ruth Ann had followed me out, somewhat behind, about 15 feet from the porch. I was another 15 feet or so beyond her. My first thought was not to make any sudden moves that might goad the dogs into charging. But clearly, we were in a very dangerous situation and I had no idea what to do.
What happened next, took only a few seconds, much less time than it takes to tell. The Real Estate lady ran back into the kitchen. Ruth Ann broke the Olympic record for the standing broad jump — twice. In two hops, she leapt back onto the porch and through the door into the kitchen. This left me alone with three angry, dangerous dogs, 35 feet from safety.
I dared not run. With no plan or forethought at all, I faced the dogs, extended my arm and pointed my index finger at them. In my loudest, deepest, most authoritative, voice possible, I yelled: ”In the name of Jesus, stop!”
The two dogs in the rear instantly froze in place — as if glued to the ground. The lead dog went through a slow motion freeze that left a front and back paw in the air. His hair, teeth and ears remained in attack mode. But his eyes looked around, as though in a cartoon, wondering, “Why am I stopping, what’s happening to me?”
The initial threat had been stopped — at least for a while. But, the situation was far from over. I was still 35 feet from safety; facing three angry dogs frozen in place — for how long, I didn’t know. Surprised and buoyed by this initial success, and no idea what else to do, I decided to issue another command. With arm and forefinger extended again, and in the same, successful voice, I ordered: “In the name of Jesus, leave!”
The two dogs in the rear immediately turned around and sauntered across the street to their yards. The lead dog thawed, again in slow motion. His hair, ears, and teeth slowly returned to normal. His eyes kept looking around trying to figure out what was happening. When he finished his thaw, he abruptly turned around, ignoring me, and sauntered back across the street to his lawn and buddies.
The three of us sat in the kitchen for a while to let our racing hearts slow down. Ruth Ann and I thanked The Lord for our safety and such an awesome display of His authority and power. As we drove out of the area, the three dogs were lazily sunning themselves as before, without a care in the world.
I have no idea what was the level of my discipleship with Jesus that day. Nor can I remember my level of spiritual maturity or experience. What I do know is the situation was very dangerous; I had no options, and no idea what to do. Somehow, from the depths of my being, I found myself exercising the authority of Jesus in ways I had never done before, or since. I learned that day, as long as I’m focused on Our Lord, and trying to get closer to Him — He honors the faith of His people.