The Lord Needs Them
Matthew 21:1-3 (ESV) -- Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.”
Have you ever ended a prayer with, “In Jesus’ name”? I’m sure you have. We hear people pray like that and assume that’s how you’re supposed to end prayers to God. It’s true that we do. But why? Why does Jesus teach us to ask for things in His name throughout the Gospels? Is it some sort of code word to get what we want? Is it a closing remark in prayer like “Sincerely” is to the close of a letter or email?
Our passage today helps us with a practical illustration of what it means to pray in Jesus’ name. Jesus sends the two disciples into the village to retrieve a donkey and a colt that He will ride into Jerusalem. He tells them if anyone says anything to them about it, they are to say, "The Lord needs them" and he will send them at once. This is what it looks like to come in Jesus' name. It is to carry His authority and standing. We have access to the Father in Jesus' name.
How do we have access in His name? Or why do we have access in His name? Because it is Jesus' death and resurrection that justifies everyone who believes. If you put your faith in Christ, then your sins are forgiven, and you have access to God. You are made righteous. Saying "in Jesus' name" isn't a salutation or code word, it is an acknowledgement and declaration that only because of what Jesus has accomplished that we can boldly approach the throne of grace.
Apart from grace in Christ, we have no access to God. Even our prayers won’t be acceptable. We read in Isaiah 59:2, “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”
If we are dead in our sins, then we are separated from God. We do not have access to God in prayer. Does God hear you? Yes. But not in a way that inclines Him to you. Your sins have hidden His face from you. He is turned away. This is what Jesus has reconciled us from. He turns the face of the Father back to us, not with wrath, but love.
We pray in Jesus' name to declare that Christ is our access. Thank Jesus for the access you have in Him today. As you pray, remember your acceptance begins and ends with Him.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why is the story a good teaching illustration of praying in Jesus’ name?
- What does it signify when we pray in Jesus’ name?
- How does this text and devotional help encourage you to pray more boldly?
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