The Third Sunday of Easter

April 18, 2021

Acts 4:8-12

Jesus Christ of Nazareth—

The Most Powerful Name of All!

 

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.  When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”  (NIV1984)

 

 

Dear fellow worshipers of our living Lord and Savior,

 

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

 

What’s in a name?  That depends on who the name belongs to, doesn’t it?  For example, my family is rather fond of the name John.  My Grandpa’s name was John.  My Dad’s name was John.  My older brother’s name was John.  While Brenda and I named our firstborn child Jonathan, my family has a tendency to call him Jon.  But, if you were related to, a friend of, or a fan of former President Ronald Raegan, you might not be so fond of the name John.  Why?  Because in 1981 a man by the name of John shot President Raegan in an attempt to assassinate him.  (John Hinckley Jr.)

 

A person’s name is very often associated with certain characteristics and certain events.   I have known people who wanted to be called by their middle name because they didn’t like their first name.  I even know someone who changed their name completely because they simply did not like the name her parents gave to her.

 

Our sermon text for today revolves around a name.  It’s not the name Peter— even though Peter plays a central role in this text.  It’s not the name John— even though both John and Peter had been arrested and put in jail.  It’s not the name Annas or Caiaphas or John or Alexander or any of the other members of the high priests’ family— even though they were the ones who were interrogating Peter and John.  It’s not even the name Jesus.  The name at the center of this text is the name “Jesus Christ of Nazareth”!  With that name as our focus, let’s study this text under the theme:  Jesus Christ of Nazareth— The Most Powerful Name of All!  There are two things we want to see today.  First let’s see that the name “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” has the power to heal.  Then let’s see that the name “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” has the power to save.

 

The events recorded here in our text are the result of something that happened the day before.  As Peter and John were going into the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem, a man who had been “crippled from birth” was sitting by the Temple gate begging people for money.  When he saw Peter and John, he asked them for money.  After getting the man’s attention, Peter said to him, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6).  Do you remember what happened next?  Peter took the man who had been “crippled from birth” by the right hand and helped him up.  Instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong!  He jumped to his feet and went with Peter and John into the Temple of the Lord, “walking and jumping and praising God” (Acts 3:9).  The people in the Temple were so astonished that they gathered around Peter and John and the man who was once a cripple.  Peter then took this opportunity to talk about Jesus to everyone who was there.  First, he reminded the people that they were the ones who handed Jesus over to Pilate and demanded that He be crucified.  Then he revealed to the people that God raised Jesus from the dead.  Finally he called the people to repent of their sins and trust in Jesus as the Messiah whom the God of their fathers, had promised to send into this world.  When the priests, the captain of the Temple guard and the Sadducees heard what Peter and John were proclaiming to the people, they were “greatly disturbed.”  So what did they do?  They seized Peter and John and because it was evening, they put them in jail.

 

Our text begins the next morning when Peter and John were brought before the spiritual leaders of God’s people who had demanded to know, “By what power or what name did you do this?”  Luke writes, “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.”

 

You can sense the confidence and the conviction in Peter’s words.  Peter was more than ready to answer their question!  Peter made it perfectly clear to these religious leaders that there was only one “name” that had the “power” to heal a man who had been “crippled from birth.”  That name is:  “Jesus Christ of Nazareth”!  For the three years of Jesus’ public ministry He was commonly known as “Jesus of Nazareth.”  Out of contempt this is the name that Pilate posted above Jesus’ head when He was nailed to the cross.  But to make sure that these “rulers and elders of the people” knew precisely who “Jesus of Nazareth” is, Peter includes His official title— “Christ.”

 

Whether these “rulers, elders and teachers of the law” accepted it or not, Jesus of Nazareth is the Lord’s “Anointed One.”  And while these leaders of God’s people rejected Jesus as the Lord’s “Anointed One,” while they judged Him as being a blasphemer and  demanded that He be crucified, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob overruled them and raised Jesus from the dead!  And if they wanted undeniable proof that the “name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” has the “power” to heal— Peter points to the man who had been “crippled from birth” and says to the religious leaders, “This man stands before you healed.”

 

As we gather together in the name of “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” we need to remember that this name has just as much power to heal today as it did in the days of the apostles.  While “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” has not promised to give us the same “power” that He gave to His apostles (See Mark 16:14-20), He has promised to hear and to answer all of our prayers.  I have personally seen how that promise has resulted in miraculous healings on a number of occasions.  I have been at the bedside of people for whom medical science had no more to offer.  The doctors had done their very best to heal them, but there was nothing more they could do.  So together with the family we once again turned to Jesus in prayer and asked Him to grant healing to their loved one— if it was His will.  I can still picture the faces of people who were not only healed, but they went on to live happy thankful lives.  And yes, I have also been in situations where together with the family we turned to Jesus in prayer to ask for His healing and the Lord answered that prayer by granting their loved one perfect healing by taking them Home to heaven.  Don’t ever doubt the power of the name of “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” to heal!  Don’t ever doubt the power of a prayer offered up to heaven in the name of “Jesus Christ of Nazareth”!

 

Turning back to our text we see how Peter reminds us that the name of “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” is also the only name that has the power to save.  Standing in front of the same men who had condemned “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” as Someone who was “worthy of death” (See Matthew 27:66), Peter proclaims two objective unchangeable truths.  First, Peter says to these men concerning Jesus, “He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’”  As the spiritual leaders among God’s Chosen People these men were supposed to be “building” God’s “house,” by strengthening and nourishing the faith of God’s people with God’s holy revealed Word.  Instead of doing what God wanted and expected them to do, they “rejected” the “capstone” of God’s Church, “Jesus Christ of Nazareth.”  Whatever they were “building” it wasn’t being done for the glory of God or the benefit of God’s people.  This is a very powerful reminder to us of how important it is to take to heart what Jesus taught us about the ”wise” and “foolish” builders!  (See Matthew 7:24-27)

 

Peter’s second objective unchangeable truth is found in these words of our text, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”  This is a truth that is vehemently denied, rejected, scorned and vilified by many people today.  “Salvation is found in no one else”“There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved”!  This is not a theoretical proposition that is open to debate.  This is an exclusive claim concerning the name of Jesus.  “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” is the only name that has the power to save someone for all of eternity.  Anyone and everyone who believes and trusts in the name of “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” and what He has done for them (Pointing to the cross) is saved!  Anyone and everyone who does not believe and trust in the name of “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” and what He has done for them (Pointing to the cross) cannot and will not be saved.  No debate.  No discussion.  No exceptions.

 

That objective unchangeable reality motives us to do two eternally important things.  First, it motivates us to stay as close to “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” as we possibly can!  If we are not consciously “building” our faith on the “foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20), if we are not consciously “growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) through regular study of His holy Word and regular reception of His holy Supper, then it will be much easier for that “roaring lion” known as Satan to lure us away from the cross, divert our attention away from the empty grave and “devour” us!  (See 1 Peter 5:8)

 

Second, the objective unchangeable reality that Peter proclaims here in our text, motives us to share the message of “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” with as many people as we possibly can.  No matter how nice or how good a person might be, no matter how dedicated or how sincere their faith might be— “there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”  Whether it is on an individual personal level or whether it is through the worldwide outreach of our Synod this is the message that motivates us to carry out the Great Commission that “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” has given to us, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19, 20).

 

So, my friends, what’s in a name?  That truly depends on who the name belongs to, doesn’t it!  When the name is “Jesus Christ of Nazareth”— it is the most powerful name of all!  Always remember that this (Pointing to the cross) is the only name that has the power to heal.  Always remember that this (Pointing to the cross) is the only name that has the power to save!

 

To God be the glory!

 

Amen