The power in a name. Acts, 15. Acts 3.1-11
Desperately wanting to meet people and make friends, when I was asked for dinner at my next-door neighbor’s house the other night, I gratefully accepted. On the menu - smoked pork butt; around here, ‘barbecue’ is serious business. Having been at Bennett’s flag football game, I arrived a little after the family that had also been invited. I did a lot of listening but was drawn into conversation when someone asked what I do. Very aware of the context, I answered and was in mid-sentence when I realized that the 16-year-old daughter was standing behind me gesturing. Turns out, she was mocking me--and trying to say she had to get out of there, away from the conversation. Her dad exploded on her for her rudeness, but….it was done. When I was gracefully able, I said my ‘good byes’ and ‘thank yous’ and went home. [Honestly, I think if that had happened at home in California, I would have laughed it off; it did not, and I did not.]
Yesterday, we looked at the man who couldn’t walk, being carried to beg outside the Temple, the story described by Luke in Acts 3. Perhaps he was abreast of Peter and John as they were on their way to pray with other Jews that afternoon--3 pm was the most popular time. [wait….weren’t Peter and John Christians? Yes, they were Christ followers for sure, but they were still Jews…Jewish Christians, as were all the early believers in Jesus Christ]. While the man just wanted a few coins, Peter answered:
“I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have.
In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”1
Peter healed the man in the name of Jesus Christ.
There is power in the name of Jesus. It is a funny thing because you can have discussions with folks about religion, and to a person, people like Jesus. They believe he was a good guy, a wise teacher….but then in other situations, the name of Jesus can cut the air--like the other night.
I’ve thought so much about that scene with Peter and John and the unnamed man who was so happy his legs suddenly worked, that he went dancing into the Temple in joy. Please understand that before this, he was not allowed in the Temple precisely because of his infirmity. And now he can go and pray and worship, and his joy knew no bounds. O, to have seen it!
Peter was not the source of power - it was the power of God who healed the man, accessed through the name of Jesus. And one more thing - Peter’s faith, Peter’s relationship with that Jesus.
I remember one time I was in Los Angeles Airport, the infamous L.A.X., when a woman let out a shriek right next to me. Turning around, I was able to catch her man’s head before it hit the ground. While she flailed her arms trying to get someone to render medical attention, I knew at once that I had something they needed - Jesus. I looked into her eyes and said, ‘I’m going to pray, okay?’ ‘Yes yes, please!’ the reply. And so I prayed that God would come and heal, give wisdom and bring peace, concluding with “In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.” You see, like Peter, that is the one thing I had to give.
It was Jesus himself who gave us the right to invoke the power in his name. Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.2
And what does that have to do with you? If you are a Christ follower, you too can offer the peace, comfort, healing, strength and power that comes only through the name of Jesus. I pray you do and you will.
This afternoon, I will go out with the Dream Center to take food to folks in poor neighborhoods in Raleigh. Why? Because it is my chance to serve in Jesus’ name.
Again, I love that picture of picture of the man who was suddenly enabled to walk running into the Temple3 in joy. It just etches a smile on my face and heart--all because of the name of Jesus. Oh, there is such power in that beautiful name.
Say his name,
1 - Acts 3.6
2 - John 16.24
3 - Pray for the people of Jerusalem - the temple mount is filled with violence and carnage. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.