“Proclaim the Power of Jesus’ Name”
(Acts 4:8-12 – Easter 3 – April 15, 2018
Acts 4:8-12 – Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Dear Redeemed in Jesus Christ:
Do you ever long for perfect health? How many, in this congregation alone, deal with health issues. Some of these are passing, like when we catch the cold or flu bug, and it just takes time for our body’s immune system to overcome it. But other health issues are chronic, with no permanent cure. At best, the condition can only be said to be in remission, and the pain can only be kept under control. Even then, one may undergo constant testing and altering of treatment.
The good news of Easter continues, as we deal with our daily issues of health and struggles in this fallen world. Jesus’ resurrection victory promises that one day, all our problems in this temporal life will be changed to eternal perfection. That is why, in the face of our troubles, faith looks upward and says: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:21).
In our text, the apostles declare the power of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, as they stand before the Jewish high court and present a man they had healed by the power of Jesus’ name. Before our text, in Acts 3, we read that this man had been lame from birth. He had dealt with the daily health issues of a body that didn’t work properly. The people of Jerusalem had come to know him as the beggar who was carried each day and laid at the gate of the temple so he could beg for a living. One day, as Peter and John approached, he asked them for alms. But in the name of Jesus, Peter gave him something far better. He replied: “‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them – walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God” (Acts 3:6-9).
It truly was an astonishing miracle to see this man, who had been crippled with health issues for over 40 years (Acts 4:22), perfectly restored. But this physical healing was not an end in itself. It was not the far better thing the apostles had to offer. It served to underscore the power of Jesus’ name to bring spiritual and eternal healing for sinners. As the onlookers were filled with wonder and amazement, Peter declared to them that this man had been healed in Jesus’ name. He used the opportunity to preach the Gospel of forgiveness and salvation in Jesus’ name (Acts 3:12 ff.). Then a great healing of souls took place. For by the power of Jesus’ Gospel, many believed and were saved – the number of the men alone came to about 5000 (Acts 4:4).
As with the apostles, the mission of the Church continues to be to “Proclaim the Power of Jesus’ Name.” As we see in our text, it is 1) A name rejected by men; yet it is 2) The only name that saves – the only name in which true healing is found for eternal life.
1) A name rejected by men
That Jesus’ name is rejected by men became evident rather quickly after the apostles demonstrated the power of that name. We learn at the beginning of Acts 4 that the religious leaders were “greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody” (Acts 4:2-3).
The next day, the apostles have been brought before the Sanhedrin. The Jewish high court has demanded: “By what power or by what name have you done this?” (Acts 4:7) The disciple who once fearfully denied Jesus during His trial, boldly spoke up. “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.’ “
Is it normal for authorities to imprison citizens and bring them to trial for a good deed? Of course not! But is it surprising that this court did so? Not at all! This is the same court in which Jesus Himself had stood on trial, not long before. At that time, the high priest had demanded an answer from Jesus too: “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Jesus had answered: “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest had torn his clothes, saying: “He has spoken blasphemy!” And the court had declared: “He is deserving of death” (Matthew 26:63-66).
They knew just what Jesus was claiming by that name. He claimed equality with God the Father as the eternal Son. He claimed divine authority and power as the very King of heaven, who will come again on the clouds at the Last Day to judge all people.
But they rejected that name. On Good Friday, they had tried to hush that name by crucifying Jesus. On Easter, they tried to hush that name by lies, spreading the report that Jesus’ dead body was stolen from the tomb by His disciples (Matthew 28:11-15).
But they could not get rid of the name of Jesus by crucifixion or by lies. For Jesus is risen! Philippians 2:9-11 declares: “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
As the apostles now stood before the Sanhedrin, the court saw with their own eyes the power of the resurrected Jesus. Peter’s testimony turned the tables and demanded an answer from them. What could they say? The man who had been lame from birth stood before them, healed by the power of Jesus’ name. No dead Jesus could perform this miracle! As Jesus had healed many times before witnesses before His crucifixion, He had healed again after His resurrection!
Now Peter laid down the law to the unjust court that had rejected and crucified their Lord. He cited Psalm 118:22, which prophesied concerning Christ: “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ “
“The chief cornerstone” was the stone laid at the head corner of a building. It governed every other corner and angle in the building. Jesus is that chief cornerstone, without which there could be no Church and no people of God. He who was rejected and crucified, God raised from the dead. It is on Christ, the “living stone” (1 Peter 2:4) that God builds His Church. “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).
The religious leaders should have been building God’s spiritual house, His Church, among His people. They should have done so by faithfully teaching God’s truth. But they had rejected the chief cornerstone God had chosen. So what they were building was not God’s building. It was a religion of man, built on human ideas and traditions instead of Scripture alone.
To this day, the name of the crucified and risen Jesus is rejected by many. The religion of the world teaches salvation in the name of man. It is a religion of salvation in the works of man, instead of faith in the saving work of Jesus alone. The religion of man says: “It doesn’t matter what you believe, or who you believe in, as long as you are sincere. All paths lead to heaven.” But all of this is to reject the one chief cornerstone on which God is building His Church.
The religion of man is a self-help religion. It is also the religion of our sinful nature. It does not want to build on the rock-solid foundation of Christ alone. It wants to build on the sinking sand of personal wisdom, strength, and merit. It wants to build a worldly kingdom instead of seeking first Jesus’ Kingdom and His Righteousness. Sinful pride says, “I want to be my own chief cornerstone. I want to govern everything in my life and build it my own way. I want it all to line up according to my will.” When faced with the crucified and risen Lord Jesus, our sinful nature sees competition. Like these proud officials of the high court, our sinful nature proudly refuses to bow the knee to His Lordship. But in seeking to save our life, we only lose it.
Apart from the name of Jesus, the man who had been lame from birth would have continued in a miserable physical condition unto death. But in the name of Jesus, he was healed perfectly. Far more importantly, apart from the name of Jesus, we who were born in sin would have continued in a miserable existence apart from God forever. But in the name of Jesus, God graciously offers His perfect spiritual healing unto eternal life.
2) The only name that saves
As Peter presents to the Sanhedrin the man fully healed in the saving name of Jesus, he makes a fervent plea to all to repent and believe in that name: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
No other name under heaven can take away sin and heal our soul. No other name under heaven can conquer death and save us from hell. 1 Timothy 2:3-6 says: “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.” As the chief cornerstone of our salvation, “chosen by God and precious” (1 Peter 2:4), God sent His Son to the cross to shed His precious blood for our sins. No other life could have paid the ransom. But in the name of Jesus, God has taken away the sins of the world. As prophesied in Isaiah 53:3-5, the very One was despised and rejected of men, has became the source of eternal life and healing for all. For “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”
In Jesus’ name, God heals us from the inside out. He cleanses our soul of all sin by the blood of His Son (1 John 1:7); and thereby He declares us free from all condemnation. God clothes us in the pure and holy life of His Son; and thereby He declares us perfectly righteous in His sight. Through faith in Jesus’ name, God restores our soul to perfect spiritual health.
Like the man who was healed, we have come together with fellow believers to praise God in His holy temple. We praise the saving name of Jesus as members of His household of faith. Ephesians 2:19-22 says: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.”
Now we are built on the rock-solid foundation of Christ and His unshakable truth. Therefore, no matter what trial we may face in life, like the apostles we have a bold answer in Jesus’ name. If we are beset with health problems or any other troubles of life; yes, even when we face death, we can proclaim the power of Jesus’ saving name. To paraphrase Peter’s words we can say: “By the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified for me, whom God raised from the dead, I now stand whole.” God does not promise to remove every infirmity and affliction this side of heaven, as the apostle Paul could attest with his thorn in the flesh. But God does promise that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). And He does promise that in heaven, he will remove all sickness and sorrow, and even death itself. Therefore, we look forward to the day our Savior will come to take us home. He will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body. Then we will praise Him in perfect health and joy forevermore.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.