Yesterday we talked about what it is that we have that we might give to someone else. As believers, we possess the same thing that Peter did -- the name of Jesus -- and all the power associated with it.
As a result of the healing of the lame man in chapter three, 5,000 men come to faith in Jesus Christ. They are set free from their sins. But Peter and John end up in jail, confined by the religious leaders for their role in this "disturbance." In this we see Luke continue his emphasis on the theme of the name of Jesus.
When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire,“By what power, or in what name, have you done this?" - Vs 7
Peter responds: "By the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene -- by this name this man stands before you in good health." - Vs 10
Then he adds: "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." - Vs 12
The religious leaders are speechless. They don't know how to respond, so they decided "let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name" - Vs 17. And "they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus" - Vs 18.
After being warned and released, Peter and John return to the other disciples and share what has happened. They end up praising God and praying, "And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus" - Vs 29-30.
The name of Jesus. To speak the name of Jesus in that day was risky business. Especially in the days and weeks immediately after His crucifixion. Because the religious leaders wanted Him dead and gone. But the disciples were proclaiming to be alive and well. To talk about His name was to talk about His resurrection and His power. To talk about His name was to proclaim that He was Who He said He was: The Messiah, the anointed One, the Son of God and the Savior of the world.
To proclaim the name of Jesus took guts back then. But has anything really changed? It takes real guts to speak His name today. No, it's not difficult to talk about Jesus. A lot of people do that. They talk about Jesus the teacher, Jesus the prophet, Jesus the doer of good deeds. But that's not the Jesus Peter and John were proclaming. No, if we proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior, and the one and only way to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation, we will catch some heat. If we proclaim that Jesus' name is synonomous with life-transforming power, then we will face rejecting and ridicule, just as Peter and John did.
So if we speak the name of Jesus like Peter and John did, we will face persecution. We will encounter problems. So what should we do? We should pray for confidence and boldness just like they did. They didn't attempt to pray their problem away. They didn't ask God to remove the persecution, to get rid of their enemies. They prayed, "take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence" - Vs 29.
They knew that power was associated with the name of Jesus. They knew that lives would be changed through the name of Jesus. They knew that trouble would come as a result of speaking the name of Jesus. But they also knew it was worth it. So they asked for boldness to speak His name in the midst of the threats. And God answered their prayer. He still wants to answer that prayer today. Are you and I ready to pray it?
Father, give me the boldness and confidence to speak the name of Jesus Christ. To tell of His resurrection and the power it brings to deliver men and women from slavery to sin and the penalty of death. There is no other name worth talking about. There is no other name under heaven that is worthy of mentioning. So give me the guts to talk about it to everyone I meet. Amen.