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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Power of Jesus' Name

Pastor Shim's sermon from July 3, 2011.

(Acts 3:1-16 & 4:1-4)

I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His Empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him. –Napoleon

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Mark 11:28). Jesus’ power frees us.

In John Masefield's drama, The Trial of Jesus, Procula, the wife of Pilate, hears the report that Jesus rose from the tomb. She asks Longinus, a Roman Soldier, in great excitement: "Do you think He is dead?" Longinus replies, "No, I don't." Procula asks, ''Then where is He?" And Longinus declares, "Loose in the world, lady, where neither Jew nor Roman nor anyone else can stop Him!" Living Words, Frank C. Laubach

The power and the effect of Jesus' name are clearly seen in Acts 3:1-16 in the healing of a crippled man. Peter and John went to the temple to pray, and at the gate of the temple a crippled man begged them for some money. Peter said to the crippled man, "Look at us." The man, expecting to receive some money, focused on Peter and John. Peter said to the crippled man, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." Peter helped the man to get up, and "instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk." A miracle happened because Peter believed and applied the name of Jesus. Let us look at the story!

The miracle of healing happened in Jesus' name.

The name of Jesus stands for Jesus; it represents him. According to Acts 2:21, “...everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." We call on the name of the Lord because He is our hope (Matthew 12:21). We bow in prayer in the name of Jesus because we acknowledge Him as Lord. 'That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth" (Philippians 2:10). We bow before Jesus out of love and adoration. Someday all knees will bow –no choice.

The name of Jesus is used as power and authority. The disciples cast out demons in the name of Jesus. Demons obeyed the power and the authority of Jesus' name. When they were commanded to leave the possessed person, they came out (Matthew 8:28-32). And demons only acknowledge Jesus and his followers (Acts 19: 13-16). Demons knew who Jesus was, unlike rebellious humans.

The name of Jesus, with the Father and the Holy Spirit or just the name of Jesus was used in the baptism of a new believer. That was to identify the person with Jesus (Acts 2:38). However, the name of Jesus is not a magic wand. Before we can use His name, we need to have a personal relationship with Him as our savior and Lord. The Bible clearly tells us that God only recognizes the name of Jesus Christ His Son as a means of salvation, as it is stated in the Bible in Acts 4:12 "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." In 1 Tim 2:5, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." In John 14:6 "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Some people try to design their religion as they design their clothes or house. Here is an example of the confusion.
Singer Sheryl Crow said recently, in a New York Post interview: "I believe in God. I believe in Jesus and Buddha and Mohammed and all those that were enlightened. I wouldn't say necessarily that I'm a strict Christian. I'm not sure I believe in heaven." Sheryl Crow is where many people are today; they believe in everything and nothing at the same time. They are not sure they believe in the kingdom of God. But at some point you are going to have to land on both feet and have them both go in the same direction. In order to be aware of the kingdom of God around you, you have to believe in the kingdom of God, and the One who is the King of that kingdom. Jesus thought that the kingdom of God was so important that it should be our highest priority. He said, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33). Told by Rodney Buchanan.
Peter and John were committed to the kingdom of God as their first priority, that's why they went to the Temple to pray when they encountered a crippled man. Peter used the name of Jesus to heal the crippled man and that transformed the disabled man to a fully functioning human being. The healing miracle shocked the onlookers into an awakened state of wonder!

The miracle of healing happened when Peter used the power of Jesus' name. Peter knew what he did not have and what he had. It is important to realize we can only give what we have. But we should not excuse ourselves from involvement because of what we don't have. God has given us something to use and God will give us more as we use what we have. That's what Peter did and there was joy for the crippled man and a surprise for everyone at hand.

Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk." Peter helped the man to get up because he believed in the power of Jesus' name to heal. and the crippled man "jumped to his feet and began to walk."

Peter, John, and all the people witnessed an instant miracle as the crippled man went to the Temple, "walking, jumping, and praising God." This miracle happened because Peter believed in God's power to do a miracle. Peter was the agent of faith and grace on behalf of the crippled man. We have the same God to believe. We act on our faith and God will do what pleases Him. God’s love or compassion never changes.

Sadly today, most Christians do not expect a miracle to happen or their prayers to be answered. It seems they have found a substitute to meet their need, or perhaps they are disappointed because of unanswered prayer. Some people equate a delayed answer to prayer as denial. Only God knows what's going on in each person's heart and mind. As this story illustrates, somehow our expectation for a miracle or a surprise from God is lowered to a minimum. If we don't expect a miracle we don't have to be disappointed. We must be careful not to let the things of this world get in the way.

The great theologian Thomas Aquinas visited Pope Innocent II and found him counting a large sum of money. "Ah, Thomas," said the Pope, “the church can no longer say, ‘silver and gold have I none.' "That is true, you’re Holiness, said Aquinas, "but then, neither can it now say, 'Arise and walk'”The apostles didn't have silver and gold, but they had the power of God. What we need are not possessions, but power; Power to touch people's lives with the power of the living God; power to reach out to people and lift them up out of their tragic circumstances and give them hope and healing, friendship, and fellowship. This was the ministry of the representative of the spirit-filled church. We too are called to connect people to Jesus’ transforming power of hope.

Dr. Luke is very careful to make sure that we get the total impact of what happened. Verse 7 tells us, "And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength." – John Hamby.

Summary of Acts 3:
* It speaks about God’s power to do the impossible and surprise us.
* It shows us about God’s love and provision when we act by faith.
* It is a mandate for us to act as ambassadors of wholeness in Jesus name.

Application for our daily life:
* Jesus promised to help us when we call on him for our needs and for others, "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father" (John 14:13-14).
* We can follow Peter and John’s example to bring help to the broken people in Jesus' name.
* We can be encouraged by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s words, "It is a great consolation for me to remember that the Lord, to whom I had drawn near in humble and child-like faith, has suffered and died for me, and that He will look on me in love and compassion." "By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong (Acts 3:16). The greatest honor of a Christian is to hear, “You’re Jesus’ follower.”

Pastor Shim Habte, Willows United Methodist Church,
544 N. Shasta St. Willows, CA 95988 (530)934-3190
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