Summary: Show the Holiness of Your Reputation 1) To me 2) Through me
Apparently more than 10 million people a day check out eBay, that online auction website where you can buy anything from a broken laser pointer (the first eBay item ever offered for sale) to a jet (the most costly item purchased on eBay). If you’re not among the 10 million shoppers on eBay, is it because you’re worried about getting ripped off? I mean how can you really be certain that you’re going to receive the item you paid for? When you buy something at a store you can handle the merchandise before purchasing it and immediately take it home with you after you’ve handed over your hard-earned cash. Veteran shoppers will tell you that before purchasing something off of eBay you’ll want to check out the seller’s feedback profile. If the merchant in question has ripped off others, there should be a record of it causing you to pause before you hit the “buy now” button.
Putting your faith in the God of the Bible is a little like purchasing something on eBay. You don’t get to “handle” eternal life before buying into it. We simply have God’s word that putting our faith in Jesus will one day lead to an eternal life of happiness. But what if we’re wrong? What if all this time you spent at church and all the money you gave for ministry was a waste because the Bible wasn’t true? God knows that we struggle with doubts like these. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray “Hallowed be your name.” What we are asking with the First Petition in the Lord’s Prayer is for God to show the holiness of his reputation to us so that lingering doubts of God’s trustworthiness will disappear. We’re also asking that he show the holiness of his reputation through us so that others too may glorify God’s saving name.
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus taught us to pray, “Hallowed be your name” and not “Hallowed be you, O God”? Perhaps the reason for this is that it’s really only through his name, that is, his reputation that we now can know God. God is invisible and lives in an unapproachable light explains the Apostle Paul (1 Timothy 6:16). So if everything we know about God now comes to us through his reputation, it’s no wonder God wants his reputation to be hallowed, that is to be held in high esteem.
Last week a pizza parlour owner in Pennsylvania was arrested for planting bags of mice in the pizza joints of his competitors. He figured if mice were seen running around those restaurants their reputation and therefore their business would suffer. That news item is worth a few chuckles but had the saboteur succeeded the affected pizza joint owners wouldn’t have been laughing. Nor is it a laughing matter when Satan sabotages God’s reputation as he did in the Garden of Eden when he caused Eve to question God’s goodness for telling her not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
What kind of doubts has Satan planted in you regarding God’s reputation? When you read about how God ordered the Israelites to slaughter every last man, woman, and child who lived in Canaan, do you wonder: “How can this be a God of love?” Or when you think about the people who never had the chance to hear about Jesus do you also question how God can really condemn them to hell on Judgment Day? Like a bag of mice shoved into the rafters of a restaurant, these doubts skitter through our hearts and unsettle our faith. The results can be disastrous. When Adam and Eve doubted God’s Word they traded paradise for a patch of thorns.
But Jesus knows how difficult, really how impossible it is for sinners to trust the ways of a holy and just God. Therefore he urges us to pray, “Hallowed be your name.” To paraphrase, we’re asking: “Show us the holiness of your reputation, Lord. Overcome the doubts Satan plants in our hearts so that we continue to hold your reputation as the Savior-God in high esteem and one day trade this patch of thorns for paradise.” God has already answered that prayer this morning. In our Epistle Lesson (for Transfiguration) you heard the Apostle Peter assure, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”...we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:16, 17, 19a). Peter wants us to know that the message we read in the Bible is truly from God and can be trusted. It’s not something man made up.