“Let it be known to all of you 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 is standing before you well.” (Acts 4:10)
Chapter 4 of the Book of Acts shows us the conclusion to an event that happened in the previous chapter. Peter and John had been going up to the temple one day in Jerusalem when they encountered a man born lame who was begging for alms. What he received that day was much more! Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6) Scripture goes on to tell us that Peter “took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong” (v.7).
One of the things that is notable in these two chapters in Acts is the emphasis placed on the “name” of Jesus Christ. Peter could have just as easily talked about the power, spirit, or grace of Jesus Christ; all that would have been just as accurate and true. But he focused on the Name – as if to make it clear that Jesus’ name was the means by which our Lord conveyed his power, spirit, and grace.
Likewise, when he was questioned by the religious leaders about this miraculous healing, Peter again emphasized the Name. Speaking of the death and resurrection of Jesus, he affirmed it was through “his name and by faith in his name” that this man was healed and made strong (v. 4:16). And if the point was not plain enough, Peter applied this promise to all people, saying of Jesus, that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
In the Lord’s Prayer, when we pray “hallowed be thy name” we are asking God to reveal the power and holiness of his name in our lives. To call something “holy” is to say that it is special or unique – something “set apart” from all else. In Peter and John’s encounter with the man born lame, the power of Jesus’ name had certainly been made manifest. But in that same miracle, the holiness of Jesus’ name had also been revealed.
To have the audacity to say that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” tells us that Jesus’ name is special and unique. To say that only by Jesus’ name can any of us be saved shows his name is indeed “holy” – set apart to God alone. God “hallowed” his name that day through Peter and John. Our prayer is that God would do so in our lives as well.
Martin Luther reminds us that this is what true discipleship is all about. He says, “God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we ask in this prayer that it may be made holy among us!” Our life lived as a faithful disciple of Jesus does not make God holy. Rather, it is God’s own holiness revealed in Jesus Christ that makes us faithful.
As disciples, we are the earthen vessels that God uses to reveal himself to the world. We are living sacraments, so to speak, as he uses our lives as his “means of grace” to communicate the promise of the Gospel to others.
As witnesses and evangelists, we are simply tools in the hands of our holy Lord. But what an amazing gift it is to know that he has not only given us the privilege of calling upon his name, but also the authority to speak in his name. “In the name of Jesus Christ, and by his authority, I declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins!”
Like the man born lame, sitting at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, we were once lame in regard to our own salvation. We were born in sin and “brought forth in iniquity” as Psalm 51:5 reminds us, with no silver or gold that could buy the grace and mercy of God. But that is we have been given, free of price, through the holy name of Jesus Christ. It is for this reason that we are able to stand and confess that God has used our sin and weakness to reveal the holiness of his name. We have been marked and claimed by the name of Jesus Christ, and it is only in His name that we have life!
– Pastor Steven E. King