When I wrote Eyewitness: The Life of Christ Told in One Story, I wanted words that everyone could understand, even people who had never read the Bible. I needed to avoid religious words and phrases that are called “Christianese” because they’re only understood by people who know the language.
In the King James version of the Gospels, Jesus used the phrase “in my name” twenty-five times. What did that mean? At first I thought it was a magic phrase like “abracadabra” or “open sesame.” When used in a commanding tone, it guaranteed results. At least that seemed to be the way many Christians were using it in their prayers.
Evidently, I was missing something. If those words were as powerful as people said they were, shouldn’t they always work? What was I missing?
I asked myself, If I were at work and said, “In my boss’s name . . .,” what would that mean? I would have to be acting under specific instructions in obedience to his command. Since I wanted to show the true meaning of the text, whenever the King James had Jesus saying, “In my name,” I wrote “under my direction and authority.”
With this understanding, we can now understand how we speak to a mountain and see it cast into the sea. It isn’t magic and it isn’t our commanding tone. It works under his direction and authority.