Acts 3 and 4
Intro: Jesus is risen. His disciples are witnesses of this unprecedented event in history. Jesus has not only risen from among the dead, but he has kept his promise-he sent his Spirit to indwell, empower and instill his abiding presence among his people the church. A new age has dawned; a new people inhabit the earth.
Acts 3 begins with Peter and John going up to the Temple to pray at the 3pm hour of prayer. They come by a crippled beggar, who for many days and years has been begging from those devote folks coming and going to the Temple. He knows that praying people are usually the most generous people!
When the beggar asks for a gift, Peter, looking thoughtfully at the poor man, says to him, “I do not possess silver or gold, but what I do have, I will give to you: “in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene–walk!” (Acts 3:6) Peter then reaches down, takes the cripple’s right hand, lefts him to his feet, and the story says, “and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened, and with a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” (Acts 3:7-8)
Although the story does not say it, I am thinking that Peter and John are looking on in utter amazement! All they did was tell the man to get up and walk- in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene! This is the “first” recorded miracle in the life of the early days of the church. Acts 2:43 says, “And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.” So this is not the first post resurrection miracle, but it is the first story to be told of the miraculous power of the NAME of Jesus.
Explain: Prior to his death, Jesus had been preparing his men for life after his death. In the last hours of his life he instructed them to pray a new kind of prayer. He told them, “don’t pray your usual religious prayers to Jehovah God, but rather pray to our heavenly Father. If you will ask the Father for anything in my name, then I will give it to you” (see John 14:13-14) Then Mark records the final commands of Christ that we call the “Great Commission” in Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” That is their challenge, but Jesus also gave them instructions in how to meet that challenge, when he says, “and these signs will accompany those who have believed in my name they will cast out demons… they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover…” I love the Williams translation of that phrase, “making use of my name, they will put devils to flight.” Notice, “make use of my name…”
Apply: Notice carefully the repeated teaching of Jesus. “you men must learn to make use of my Name!” He says, before now, you have asked God for nothing in my name, but the hour is coming when you will learn that God the Father honors and exalts my name. He is teaching them that the Father willingly answers the prayers of those who believe in and ask for in Jesus name!
Illust: So, Acts 3 begins with Peter and John seeing this crippled man. Peter looks intently at him; while the thought runs through his mind and spirit, “Shall I try it? Shall I test it on the poor soul who has been crippled all these years.?” In an instant of deliberate, intentional faith, Peter decides to claim the promise Jesus had made to them. He made use of the name! Making use of the name; he commands the cripple to walk, he reaches down, takes his right hand and lifts him up! What a day for that cripple. What a step of faith for Peter and John! The cripple is crippled no more. Jesus has healed him. Jesus is not gone, not dead, not powerless in a grave but alive and powerful in those who make use of His name!
Explain: In fact, as you read Acts 3 and 4 the repeated theme of this healing event and its consequences is the multiple references to the miracle being done “in the name of Jesus.” The name is the message, the name is theme, the name of Jesus is the key to the miracle.
Peter is quick to give Christ the glory for the miracle when the crowds are awed by the incredible sight of this well-known cripple leaping, dancing and praising God. In Acts 3:13-16 Peter wants all the crowd to know that it was “on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus, which has strengthened this man whom you see and know, and faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.” (Acts 3:16)
The story continues into Acts 4, where Peter and John are brought before the religious leaders of the Jews, who demand an explanation for this astounding miracle. Peter boldly proclaims to the temple High priests (the same men who orchestrated the crucifixion of Jesus) that this healing was done in and by the name of Jesus. Being filled with the Spirit of Jesus, Peter tells them, “let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE VERY CORNERSTONE. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other names under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12)
Later in the story, the religious rulers, seeing the excitement of the crowds and the authenticity of the beggar’s healing, they bring the two Apostles in again and tell them to stop using the name of Jesus to do miracles. They admit there is healing power in the name of the man they killed! Amazing! (see Acts 4:-18)
Peter’s response is wonderful. “We cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard” Peter then prays a “boldness” prayer. “And now Lord, take note of their threats and grant that thy servants may speak thy word with all boldness, while thou dost extend thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of thy holy Servant Jesus.” ( Acts 4:30)
- We must understand there is no “magic” in the name “Jesus.” It is just a name- Joshua, Yesu, Jesus. It is not a Christian, “Abracadabra” This not magic, but faith in the what the name represents. Making use of Jesus’ name is putting your faith is an empty tomb and a risen Savior!
- We like the apostles must put “to the test” our faith in the name of Jesus. To believe in his name means we believe that all authority has been given to us even as it was given to Jesus.
- “What are you believing God for right now?” Like Peter, we must look intently at a problem and apply our faith in Jesus to that problem. We have not really believed in the power of His name until we “make use of it” by verbalizing our faith.
- Faith in Jesus can also be called “confidence” in Jesus. The apostles had been with Jesus, seen his resurrection power. The closer you get to Him, the greater your faith in Him. This confidence (holy boldness) grows out of relationship with Christ.
- You have not because you ask not. We need to believe more, so we will ask more and thus see more miracles.
- We can live each day- “making use of the Name” Like those early Christ followers, we can apply the power of God to daily problems.
- What are some ways you make use of the names of Jesus? How many can you List?