Power in the Name

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus — There’s just something about that name.” — Bill and Gloria Gaither

In the days immediately after Jesus’ followers had received the Holy Spirit, they witnessed many wonders and signs. People sold what they had, to give to those in need. They worshiped and ate together, and they “enjoyed the favor of all the people.” (Acts 2:49)

But before long, Peter and James interrupted that peace with a single act of compassion: They got in trouble with the authorities for healing a lame man “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” People who had witnessed the healing approached the disciples, and Peter explained, “It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through Him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.”

The religious authorities grabbed the two disciples and threw them in jail. The next day, the leaders interrogated the two, asking them, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”

Peter didn’t soft-pedal his response: “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. Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

The authorities couldn’t deny the lame man’s healing. All they could do was threaten the disciples and order them to stop speaking out the name of Jesus.

The disciples defied the authorities, and we should be grateful for that. Our presence as the Church is testimony to their courage and commitment and to their faith in Jesus’ name. They had seen Him conquer death, which is a much more formidable adversary than any government could ever be.

Nowadays we are seeing powerful reactions to those who speak Jesus’ name. We see the world becoming more and more polarized, more hostile to Jesus and His message of “Love Thy Neighbor, Love Thy Enemy.”

When we speak His name and stand on His authority outside our “safe” Christian circles, we are likely to be scorned and be called bigots. In some places, we are taken to court or lose our jobs. And in some places, we face harsh persecution where, like the original disciples, we are jailed, beaten and killed for preaching Jesus.

Even though many people throughout history — and still today — have used the name of Jesus to justify stupid and atrocious words and activities, that does not negate its value. Its value is rooted in the man from Nazareth, the Son of God, the coming King.

So let us speak that name with care, always with compassion, and with awesome respect for its power.

Let us not be casual in the speaking of the name Jesus. It’s not just the end of a prayer, or a word in a song. It is the most powerful name — perhaps the most powerful word — in the universe. Its use carries massive responsibility.

As we do good works in His name, let us expect results — and consequences..

— Steve Brown

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)