Tuesday, February 5

Power in the Name

3:1Now Peter and John were going up together to the temple complex at the hour of prayer at three in the afternoon. 2And a man who was lame from birth was carried there and placed every day at the temple gate called Beautiful, so he could beg from those entering the temple complex. 3When he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple complex, he asked for help. 4Peter, along with John, looked at him intently and said, "Look at us." 5So he turned to them, expecting to get something from them. 6But Peter said, "I don't have silver or gold, but what I have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!" 7Then, taking him by the right hand he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles became strong. 8So he jumped up, stood, and started to walk, and he entered the temple complex with them-- walking, leaping, and praising God. 9All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10and they recognized that he was the one who used to sit and beg at the Beautiful Gate of the temple complex. So they were filled with awe and astonishment at what had happened to him. 

11While he was holding on to Peter and John, all the people, greatly amazed, ran toward them in what is called Solomon's Colonnade. 12When Peter saw this, he addressed the people: "Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this? Or why do you stare at us, as though we had made him walk by our own power or godliness? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. 14But you denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you. 15You killed the source of life, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this. 16By faith in His name, His name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Him has given him this perfect health in front of all of you.  

17"And now, brothers, I know that you did it in ignorance, just as your leaders also did. 18But what God predicted through the mouth of all the prophets-- that His Messiah would suffer-- He has fulfilled in this way. 19Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20and that He may send Jesus, who has been appointed for you as the Messiah. 21Heaven must welcome Him until the times of the restoration of all things, which God spoke about by the mouth of His holy prophets from the beginning. 22Moses said: The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your brothers. You must listen to Him in everything He will say to you. 23And everyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from the people. 

24"In addition, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, have also announced these days. 25You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, And all the families of the earth will be blessed through your offspring. 26God raised up His Servant and sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways." 

4:1Now as they were speaking to the people, the priests, the commander of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted them, 2because they were annoyed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3So they seized them and put them in custody until the next day, since it was already evening. 4But many of those who heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to about 5,000. 

(Act 3:1-16, 4:1-4 CSB)

During our dating days, my husband took me to a local restaurant his uncle recommended. In addition to the recommendation, the uncle told us that we should ‘tell them he sent us.’ I figured he knew the owners and we would receive a discount. When we arrived, though, they wouldn’t even let us in—at which point we mentioned the uncle’s name. 

“Welcome! Right this way!”

Turns out the restaurant was a private supper club which required membership to dine there. It was the first time I had ever experienced the power of a name to literally open doors.

Besides rare incidences like this, we don’t often think about names having “power” in our culture. For ancient peoples, though, names were more than a way to identify and distinguish one person or place or thing from another. Names had meaning and actual, real-life power.

In the Old Testament, God tells Moses to tell the Israelites that Yahweh—I AM—had sent him. The name Yahweh was and is much more than a personal moniker. The name itself expresses His self-existent, all-encompassing power. Creator, not created. The name was so powerful, so holy, so special that Jews would not speak it aloud, hence the use of “LORD” in the Old Testament in place of what is actually written in the Hebrew text—Yahweh.

Healing a man who could not walk—a man people had passed every day for years—was something that could only be done in the name of the LORD. When the people witnessed him walking around and praising God, they looked at Peter and John in wonder—how had they done it? Only Yahweh had the power to heal like this. And that seems to be what Peter is about to say: Why are you amazed at this? Or why do you stare at us, as though we had made him walk by our own power or godliness? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers. . .has healed this man. That’s what the people are expecting. That phrase would have been well known to his audience; it quotes Exodus 3 when God introduces Himself to Moses and sends Moses to rescue the Israelites from slavery. This phrase introduces God. It commissions miraculous, salvific work. But Peter makes an unexpected declaration: The god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers has glorified His Servant Jesus.

It was in the name of Jesus Peter had told the beggar to walk, and Peter makes sure the people understand that it was by faith in this name—Jesus—that the man was healed. Standing in the middle of the Temple courtyards, those are blasphemous words. Though the name of Jesus in Hebrew means Yahweh saves, the name of Yahweh alone has this type of power to heal. If Peter is saying that the name of Jesus, that crucified criminal, has the power to heal, then he is making heretical claims.

With the healed man standing in front of them, though, the truth of that claim was hard to argue. If only Yahweh can heal, and this man was healed in the name of Jesus, then this Jesus must be…

Cue the temple guards. As quickly as they can, the religious powers whisk away Peter and John. The religious authorities are annoyed by these wannabe teachers proclaiming heretical things, but not overly concerned. They’re practicing a policy of containment.

Except the lame man is still standing there. In the name of Jesus. And five thousand people believe what Peter and John were saying. In this Jesus, there is power to heal, to forgive sins, to raise the dead. If that’s true, then there won’t be any containing it.


Reflection

As Christians we often attach Jesus’ name to our prayers like a magic word. When we pray In Jesus’ name, though, do we mean it? Do we believe it? Do we understand the power available in that name—the power to heal, forgive sins, raise the dead? What might that kind of faith look like? How might that kind of faith pray?

Prayer

All hail the power of Jesus’ name, let angels prostrate fall. Bring forth the royal diadem and crown Him Lord of all. For Your name, Jesus, is the name above all other names, and there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. By Your name we are saved, healed, and will be raised to life. At Your name demons tremble and flee. By faith, may I realize the power available to me when I pray in Your powerful and glorious name. In the name of Jesus, Amen. 


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  • Listen and Worship.

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  • Pray for Yourself, Your Family, Your Church, and the Lost.

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Megan NessonComment