Phil Cox

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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:

Acts 3v6
... "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."

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:

Acts 4v17
By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

In 3v6 and here in 4v17, Peter refers to "the name of Jesus" three times:

  • He commanded the beggar to walk in the name of Jesus
  • He said the beggar was healed by faith in the name of Jesus
  • He said that it is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that gave the healing to the beggar

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?)

Acts 4v1-4
The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

Them, as now, it was when Christians were making a difference outside the church that persecution arose. The authorities were "greatly disturbed":

  1. Because Christians were teaching what the authorities did not want taught - they were countering the political correctness of their day
  2. Because Christians were teaching that Jesus rose from the dead

And because the people had seen proof of the power of God.

Acts 4v5-7
The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?"

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!

Acts 4v8-12
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone’. Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

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:

John 14v14
You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

John 15v16
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

John 16v23
In that day [i.e. after the resurrection] you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

Would it be easier to believe this if Jesus was here with you now? Well, HE IS!

Matthew 178v19-20
"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

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.