(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
In the Name of Jesus
2nd November 2007
A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the wonderful story of the healing of the beggar at the Temple gate called Beautiful, when Peter famously said:
And the beggar was totally healed.
At that time, we were focussing on the way we learn to recognise and respond to the Holy Spirit when He prompts us to do something. But today I want to consider Peter's explanation of the miracle he performed.
When the people saw what God had done for the beggar, healing the crippled man so he could walk and jump (and earn a living) a crowd formed around the three men: Peter, John and the ex-beggar. Peter used this as an opportunity to preach the gospel (good man!) In his talk, he said:
In 3v6 and here in 4v17, Peter refers to "the name of Jesus" three times:
Unsurprisingly, the beggar was delighted. Chapter 3v8 says:
He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
But the powers that be - both religious and political - were far from pleased (not much changes, does it?)
Them, as now, it was when Christians were making a difference outside the church that persecution arose. The authorities were "greatly disturbed":
And because the people had seen proof of the power of God.
If they'd been listening, they would have known "by what power or what name" it was done. Why are governments always so out of touch? But Peter wasn't going to miss another great opportunity to preach!
Firstly, Peter points out that he and John had been arrested for doing good! And today, even if you do good, you can get into trouble if you do it in a way that doesn't accord with current political orthodoxy.
Then Peter gets to his central point - actually THE central point of life on Earth: Healing and salvation and all divine power come through the name of Jesus Christ, and through no other name.
The phrase "the name of Jesus" means both the authority of Jesus and the work of Jesus". Medieval sheriffs and others would make proclamations "in the name of the king", meaning "on the king's business, with the king's authority". And, until recently, policemen would apprehend criminals with the words "I arrest you in the name of the law", meaning "to uphold the law, with the authority of the law".
Peter is saying that only Jesus has the authority to release divine power to heal the sick. And only Jesus has the authority to save us from our sins. And when he says "By faith in the name of Jesus, this man... was made strong", the faith he's talking about is confidence that Jesus really does have the authority to heal and to save.
Why don't we see more healing in and through the church? Because - to be honest - we don't really have that confidence. Not the total confidence that comes from knowing that Jesus has ALL authority and that He loves us and wants to heal us.
And why does Jesus have such authority? Because He's GOD.
But every Christian knows that Jesus is God, and every Christian knows that God has ALL authority. And every Christian knows that God loves us. So WHY do we lack this confidence?
Didn't Jesus say:
Would it be easier to believe this if Jesus was here with you now? Well, HE IS!
We're in a spiritual war. And our most effective weapon is faith in the name of Jesus. And our enemy will do anything he can to make us doubt the power of that name. We need to hold on to what we know: Jesus loves us so much that He was prepared to die in our place, and Jesus is so powerful that He rose from the dead. And he can release His power through the church, when we truly have faith in his name.