************ Catechism Sermon on Lord's Day 47 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on November 25, 2018

Lord's Day 47
John 12:20-36
"The First Petition - Hallowing God's Name"

"Hallowed be your name." This first petition of the Lord's Prayer is not a word of praise. It is a petition. It is a request. We are asking God for our greatest need.

"Hallowed be your name." Is this how you pray? Is this the biggest concern in your prayers? Let's admit that often our prayers tend to be man-centered, me-centered, and not God-centered.

"Hallowed be your name." This was Jesus' prayer in John 12 as He faced death: "Father, glorify your name!" (vs 28).

I The Meaning of this Petition
A "Hallowed be your name." The sound doctrine of the Catechism tells us three things about God's name. First, God's name is God Himself: "Help us to really know you, to bless, worship, and praise you ..."

Second, God's name is revealed in all God's "works." There are four great works of God: creation, providence, judgment, and salvation. Shining forth from these great works are God's "almighty power, wisdom, kindness, justice, mercy, and truth."

Third, God's name is displayed in the lives of His children: "Help us direct all our living -- what we think, say, and do -- so that your name will never be blasphemed because of us but always honored and praised." God places His name upon His children.

We see this throughout the Old Testament. God calls Himself not merely "God, Lord, Lord of hosts." But He often also identifies Himself as "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" or "the God of your fathers." God has eternally tied His name and His reputation to His people. As we read in Isaiah 48:
(Isa 48:9-11) For my own name's sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off. (10) See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. (11) For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.

The same is true in the New Testament. Paul identifies God as the Father of the church.
(Eph 3:14-15) For this reason I kneel before the Father, (15) from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
God, we read in Hebrews, is not ashamed to be called our God (cf Heb 11:16).

B "Hallowed be your name." The verb "hallow" means two things. First, it means to make holy, to sanctify. The opposite of hallow in this sense is common or ordinary. God's name is not common or ordinary because God is not common or ordinary. Instead, God's name -- like God Himself -- is wholly other.
(Ps 89:6-7) For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings? (7) In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Therefore, we set apart the holy name of God and use it only with reverence and awe.

Second, "hallow" means to be devoted, dedicated, or consecrated. So we pray, like Jesus, "Father, glorify your name" (Jn 12:28). The heart's desire of believers is to live for the glory of God.

C "Hallowed be your name." Now, remember what was said in the introduction to this message: This first petition of the Lord's Prayer is not a word of praise. Yes, it implies praise and thanksgiving and worship but in and of itself it is not praise. It is a petition. It is a request. We are asking God for something.

This comes out in the grammar. All of the petitions of the Lord's Prayer are in the imperative. All of the petitions are commands. "Hallowed be your name" -- that is a command. "Your kingdom come" -- that is a command. "Your will be done" -- that is a command. "Give us today our daily bread" -- that is a command. "Forgive us our debts" -- that is a command. "Lead us not into temptation" -- that is a command. Does this make you uncomfortable? Good, but don't think this means you command God! Because you don't! The grammar is imperative, however. That's the way requests are made in the Greek and we need to do justice to that.

"Hallowed be your name." Our request is that God hallow His name through us.
Help us to really know you,
to bless, worship, and praise you ...
Help us to direct all our living ...
so that your name will ... be ...
always honored and praised.
We pray that we never use God's name in an ordinary and common way. We pray that we always be devoted to Him.

II The Necessity of this Petition
A "Hallowed be your name." Our second point is the necessity of this petition.

Again, let me remind you of what I said in the introduction: Sound doctrine says that in this petition we are asking for our greatest need. God does not need it. We need it. We need God's name to be hallowed. That's why it is a petition. We need this more than we need daily bread. We need this more than we need forgiveness of sins. We need this more than we need deliverance from evil.

Why did God create us? Why does God save us? "Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him for ever" (Q&A 1, Westminster Larger Catechism). The Apostle Paul puts it this way:
(1 Cor 10:31) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
We live for the glory of God. Or, to use the language of the Lord's Prayer, we live to hallow God's name.

B "Hallowed be your name." How are you doing in this area? Are you living up to why God created you and saved you? If we are honest, we have to admit we all fail in a thousand different ways. "Hallowed be your name." Glorify God. Enjoy God. But we sinners are prone to do anything but. Live for God?! Instead, I'm going to live for me. Enjoy God?! Instead, I'm going to live for my enjoyment. Glorify God?! Instead, I'm going to live for my own glory. In this life, in this world, in this flesh, in our culture it is all about me. The ME generation is nothing new. It started in the Garden of Eden already and will be here until Jesus comes again.

There is only One Who perfectly hallows God's name. Only Jesus -- and no other -- is able to fully enjoy God and glorify God and live for God. Remember what He did? He climbed off heaven's throne. He put aside His glory. He came to earth as a man, a servant. His prayer: "Father, glorify your name!" And He meant it. And He lived it. This was His life, His reason for existence. This was the whole point of the incarnation and the atonement.

C "Hallowed be your name." Do you know why we pray this petition? Because we sinners need help. We need help to hallow God's name. We need help in living for the glory of God. We need help in enjoying God. We need help in taking ourselves off the pedestal. We need help in dethroning ourselves. We need help in being like Jesus. And, because we need help, we pray the first petition of the Lord's Prayer. Because we need help, we pray "Hallowed be your name."
Help us to really know you,
to bless, worship, and praise you ...
Help us to direct all our living ...
so that your name will ... be ...
always honored and praised.

When it comes right down to it, do you know what we are really praying for? Think about it. We poor, fallen, miserable, self-centered creatures are praying for the grace and presence of the Spirit. Because it is only by the Spirit that any of us can make a beginning in living a life that is pleasing to God. Because it is only by the Spirit that we are able to do any kind of good. Because it is only by the Spirit that I share in Christ and all His blessings. Because it is only by the Spirit that I can even think of hallowing God's name.

III The Cost of this Petition
A "Hallowed be your name." Our third point is the cost of this petition. For the Lord Jesus Christ this first petition was costly, very costly.

Our passage starts off with Andrew and Philip telling Jesus about some Greeks who want to see Him. What a commendable request. What can be better than wanting to see Jesus? At first glance it appears that Jesus ignores their request. "We would like to see Jesus," they ask (Jn 12:21). But Jesus responds with talk of glorification and a kernel of wheat. What a strange response!

Of course, Jesus is not really talking about seed here. His concern is not with kernels of wheat or seeds of flowers. What Jesus is talking about is Himself. Like a seed, Jesus must be planted in the earth. Like a seed, He must be dead and buried before glory can come.

"We would like to see Jesus." Do you know what the Greeks are requesting? Jesus says this means they are asking to see Him at the cross and at the grave. To see Jesus, to truly see Jesus, they need to see Him killed and buried -- like a seed in the ground.

Let's never make the mistake of thinking this was an easy road for Jesus to travel. Don't ever make the mistake of thinking that for Jesus this was but a cake walk. For what does Jesus say?
(Jn 12:27) "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'?
These words reflect a natural human shrinking from death. Jesus' soul is in turmoil. His heart is troubled. The coming horror of the cross and grave fills Him with agony. The thought of bearing God's anger against human sin and evil is almost too much to bear.

Jesus says He could ask the Father to save Him from this hour. But instead He prays what actually is the first petition: "Father, glorify your name." "Hallowed be your name."

After Jesus makes this petition, it is God the Father Who now comes out with what seems like a strange response: "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again" (vs 28). "Father, glorify your name!" "Hallowed be your name." "I have," He says. "And I will," He says.

"I have." What is God referring to here? Think of Christmas and the songs of the angels praising God for the birth of the Savior. Think of the marvelous miracles of Christ. Think of Lazarus being called out of the tomb. In all of this, God has been glorified.

"Father, glorify your name! "Hallowed be your name." "I will," says God. There is only thing in mind here: the marvellous, wonderful, beautiful event of Easter Sunday. "Father, glorify your name! "Hallowed be your name." "I will," says God. And He does. On Easter Sunday, God is glorified when a harvest of life comes from death.

Think of what was done to Jesus before this could happen. Jesus had to leave heaven's throne. Jesus had to put aside the glory that was His from the beginning. Jesus had to take on human flesh and a servant nature. Jesus was arrested. Jesus was questioned. Jesus was slapped. Jesus was spit upon. Jesus was whipped; His body became weak and dehydrated. Jesus was rejected. Jesus carried the cross. Jesus was nailed to the cross. Jesus was lifted up in order to die. Jesus thirsted; His blood became thick and sluggish. For three hours Jesus was forsaken by God and experienced the pangs and torments of hell. Jesus died. His side was pierced. Jesus was laid in a grave like seed in the dirt. And, then, on the third day His body was raised to life. The law of the seed was followed and God was glorified.

B "Hallowed be your name." This first petition is costly, very costly. Not only for Jesus but also for those who believe in Jesus.

Realize we are praying for the glory of God's name in a world that hates God and His name. Therefore, if we live this first petition we will also be hated and persecuted. To hallow God's name means we expose ourselves to the scorn and ridicule of a hostile world.

Not only the world but even our own sinful flesh hates God and will not hallow God's name. We need to pray this petition so the desires of the flesh will not overtake us or hinder us when it comes to hallowing and glorifying God's name.

This first petition also becomes difficult when providence brings us trials rather ease. What if God purposes to hallow His name by the death of a loved one? What if God intends to hallow His name by means of an earthquake, a bombing, a war, a financial collapse? What if God touches our health, our money, our possessions, our grandchildren? As the song puts it:
God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
Can we say at such times in our lives that God's name still is hallowed and glorified?

"Hallowed be your name." Father, glorify your name." We ask this petition in faith. For it is only by the power of the cross and the grave that we are able to direct what we think, say, and do to the honor and praise of God's name.
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