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No Other Name

Date: Apr. 17, 2022

Author: Dan Bockenfeld

Acts 4:1-31

Key Verse: Acts 4:12

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.

Happy Easter, everyone! It is Easter Sunday and the final day of our Easter event. In fact, our Easter event began a week ago, last Sunday, with Bob’s message about Jesus and the cross. At that cross, there was so much going on. The governor Pilate was trying to find ways to free the unjustly accused Jesus, but his fear of the Jews kept him from doing the right thing. The Jewish religious leaders were so full of hatred for Jesus that they preferred to let a murderer go free and condemn an innocent man, then to let Jesus keep teaching. All of Jesus’ disciples abandoned Jesus and he was all alone as he was nailed to the tree. The soldiers who carried out his execution divided his clothes among themselves and cast lots for the last piece. Just five days prior, Jesus entered Jerusalem as a triumphant king, with people cheering his arrival. He was the Messiah who would restore Israel’s fortunes. He was the conquering king, who would bring peace to the world, but now, he was dying like a criminal. All the people’s hopes were dashed and the voices who once cried, “Hosanna!”, now cry “Crucify!” But little did they know that the hosanna they screamed could only come from the crucifixion they would later shout. The disciples would wonder how this could come to pass and fear that they would be next. But this all happened according to God’s will.

The disciples grieved the loss of Jesus, while the religious leaders cheered, but their grief was not to last. Jesus mentioned to them before he was arrested, “Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” (John 16:20) The disciples wouldn’t be stuck in sorrow because of Jesus’ death. It was necessary to bring about salvation. Jesus would rise from the dead. There were two disciples who fled Jerusalem and headed to Emmaus. They were full of grief because of what happened. They had pinned their hopes to Jesus, but he died, and died in a most brutal way. As they walked, the risen Jesus walked with them and opened their hearts to understand why everything had to happen the way it did. He taught them and was with them, until their hearts were burning with desire. They finally recognized Jesus and raced back to Jerusalem to tell the others what happened.

After Jesus rose from the dead, he spent forty days with his disciples and then he ascended into heaven. His disciples returned to a room and at the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon them like never before. They were filled with God’s Spirit and spoke in languages that they didn’t ever know. The people were amazed and wondered how this happened and Peter explained that it was Jesus who made it all possible. Not long after that, the disciples Peter and John were going to the temple. Outside the temple, there was a beggar who was lame, but Peter healed him. The people were amazed, and Peter proceeded to explain that Jesus was the Messiah. The Jesus that was crucified just months earlier, rose from the dead. It was in the name of that Jesus that this man was healed. They were explaining why the Messiah had to suffer and die when our passage begins today.

Our passage begins, “The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people.” (1) As Peter and John were speaking to the people, some very important people came up to them. They were the priests who served in the temple and the captain of the temple guard. Now, the captain of the temple guard was the number two person in the religious hierarchy, right after the high priest. The Sadducees were a political party, like the Pharisees, but with different beliefs. All the priests were Sadducees, but not all Sadducees were priests. The Sadducees did not believe in most spiritual matters. They did not believe in spirits, angels, or demons. To them, there was no concept of immortality or the resurrection of the dead, believing that there is no life beyond this one. So, when they heard that Peter and John were speaking about Jesus’ resurrection, they were none to pleased. “They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” (2) Here, in the temple, in their domain, were these upstarts proclaiming the resurrection of the dead in Jesus’ name. This is the very same Jesus that was such a threat to their power and livelihood, they had conspired to have him killed just a couple of months prior. Now, here were these guys, these random, nobody guys teaching in his name the resurrection of the dead. They could not stand for that.

They were so disturbed that they interrupted Peter and John’s sermon. “They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.” (3) It was late, so they arrested Peter and John and threw them into jail until the morning. This jail was a part of the temple complex and existed so that the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, could detain violators of temple rules. Since it was late, the Sanhedrin had dismissed for the evening. They would convene again the next day and Peter and John would be a big part of their next proceedings. When Jesus was arrested, everything was done at night and in secret, but here the Sanhedrin is abiding by the word of God and discussing this matter during the day.

Even though Peter and John were arrested publicly, their message resonated with the crowd in the temple. “But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.” (4) When Jesus died, rose, and ascended into heaven, there were only 120 believers in Jerusalem. After Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came on the disciples, three thousand more came to believe. The crowd believed because of the sign that the disciples who were filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in all sorts of languages from all over. Now, Peter and John healed a man who was not able to walk from birth. They proclaimed their power was from the Risen Jesus. With that message, despite their arrest the number of believers increased to about five thousand. Despite their arrest, the church grew. The message resonates with people, no matter what is going on. Threats and persecution cannot stop the work of God. It constantly moves forward.

“The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family.” (5-6) The next morning the Sanhedrin gathered, and all the most prominent people were there. The passage lists Anna, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander. Each of these men were a part of the same family. Annas was considered by the people as the legitimate high priest, but he was removed by the Romans, and Caiaphas, his son-in-law was installed in his place. Annas had sons and grandsons also made high priest, but he was ultimately still the one in power. “They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: ‘By what power or what name did you do this?’” (7) Peter and John were brought to the middle of the room where the Sanhedrin met, and they asked them by what authority did they do the things they were doing. To do something in someone’s name, means that you are doing something on that person’s behalf.

The Sanhedrin really wanted to know by what authority they were doing what they were doing, and Peter took full advantage of it. “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 man who was lame and are being 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. Jesus is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.” Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’” (8-12) Peter and John were standing before the same people that had Jesus arrested and killed, but they weren’t trembling in fear. Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and bold. He couldn’t care less for all the powerful people who were in front of him. They had no power and could not intimidate Peter and John.

Peter acknowledged the ludicrous nature of their arrest. They were arrested because they showed an act of kindness to a man born lame. They were arrested because they healed a man who, from birth, could not walk for over forty years. It was so strange, when you think of it, but the Sanhedrin wanted to know by what power or name they were able to heal the man, so Peter told them. He told them that it was in Jesus’ name that he was healed. Not only that, Peter accused the Sanhedrin of having Jesus killed, but God raised him from the dead. Then they quote Scripture to the ruling council. They quote Psalm 118:22, “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.” The Jews rejected Jesus, but because of that he became the most important person in history. Jesus became the foundation for salvation, which Peter pressed upon in verse 12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Salvation is found in no one else. They were very clear in their words. There is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. There is no other way to find salvation. Spiritual healing, along with physical healing, can only be found in Jesus. There is nothing else.

We, as people, do some good things and some bad things. Every time we walk away from God or succumb to fear or give in to our selfishness, we sin against God. The Law is clear, the punishment for sin is death. We all deserve death for even the smallest of infractions. Every other faith puts the burden of salvation on the person. A person must out do they bad things. Their good things must outweigh the bad. But doing good does no undo doing bad. We can’t undo sin; we have no way to erase it. It is always on our record and the Law says that record must be spotless to find new life. Any blemish must be paid for by blood and death. In last week’s passage, Jesus took the punishment that was due us by dying on a cross for us. We were saved because he was crucified. In our record, the bad things were blotted out by the blood of Christ. We don’t have to have our good outweigh our bad because the bad is gone. We are no longer bound by sin to death. We can be free. There is no one else that can do that.

The Sanhedrin was dumbfounded at their response. “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. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.” (13-14) Usually people are groveling before the Sanhedrin, but Peter and John had courage. They weren’t cowering in fear, but they were bold in their proclamation. They spoke with clarity and understanding that was beyond their schooling. Peter and John weren’t formally trained in the word of God, but they handled it deftly in the face of strong opposition. On top of that, the man that they healed was standing right there. Everyone on the Sanhedrin recognized him. He was constantly in the temple area and each member saw him as they entered the temple each morning, but now, he was healed. He was standing right there.

The Sanhedrin ordered everyone out to talk privately. “‘What are we going to do with these men?’ they asked. ‘Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.’” (16-17) They had no idea what they were going to do. They couldn’t deny that they healed the man can couldn’t do anything about it because everyone in Jerusalem knew about the healing. The news spread fast. The only thing that they could think of was to just tell Peter and John to stop speaking in Jesus’ name. They could only slap their wrists.

However, their threats were useless and had no authority. “But Peter and John replied, ‘Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.’” (19-20) Peter and John replied if they should listen to them or to God. They could not stop speaking about Jesus. It is interesting that there is more to Peter and John’s words than meets the eye. Their words, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him?” is a saying that originated from Socrates who was being warned by the Athenians to stop teaching. Here were these unschooled, ordinary men throwing the words of a Greek philosopher at them. The accusers were timid while the accused were bold. The irony was thick.

The religious leaders threatened Peter and John some more and let them go, because the people were praising what they had done. Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the Sanhedrin told them. In response, the believers were afraid, but they took it to God in prayer. They came together and prayed as one. “‘Sovereign Lord,’ they said, ‘you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.’” (24-26) Again, the believers were quoting Scripture, this time Psalm 2. They were right. The Sanhedrin was not against Peter and John, but rather, they were against Jesus. They were rising to attack Jesus, now through his disciples.

The believers continued in their prayer, “Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (27-30) The recognized the connection from the passage in Psalm 2 to what happened to Jesus, but they also saw God’s hand in all of it. The religious leaders plotted and schemed to get rid of Jesus, but God used it to bring about salvation for all who believe. Now, in light of the Sanhedrin’s threats, they were not praying for the situation to go away, but to be able to go out and preach in boldness. They were emboldened to do more than what they were doing before. They were warned to stop talking about Jesus, but they prayed to do it more.

“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (31) This was a confirmation that the Lord heard their prayers. The entire building was shaken, and they were able to go out and be all the bolder about what they have seen and heard.

This is a marked difference from their reaction to Jesus being arrested. When Jesus was arrested, all of his disciples fled the area in fear. Peter followed at a distance to see what they were going to do to Jesus, but when confronted by a slave girl, he denied knowing Jesus at all. He was so afraid of being arrested and killed that he succumbed to fear and denied knowing his savior. Now, he is being brought before the same people who condemned Jesus and threatened to not speak in Jesus’ name, but he is not fearful, he grows bolder. This is not the same man. Likewise, after Jesus’ death, the believers locked themselves in a room for fear of being next. They had no direction and had no idea what to do next. Jesus had died at the cross, but they didn’t know what came next. Even after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, the believers were not sure what was next. They were rudderless and uncertain, but now they knew what to pray for. They weren’t stuck at the cross, but they continued to look to Christ after the cross. Their direction was to follow Christ and share what he has done with others. There was no doubt or fear anymore.

That is amazing. They were serving and sharing despite being told not to. They were changed. There was nothing else that could make this change other than Jesus. There is no other name that has the power to change a person’s heart. We have all these self-help and power of positive thinking things out there, and while they do work some and can be very beneficial, they don’t really truly change a person. They change habits, but not the heart. Only Christ, only Jesus can change our heart. There is no mantra, no wonder drug, no other name that can heal and change the heart than the name of Jesus.

Now, sometimes that change is dramatic, like with these disciples, but many times, when you are in the middle of it, you might not see or feel like you have been changed. However, if you believe that Jesus died for your sins and you feel the burden of your sins off your soul, then change has begun. Like the disciples, we don’t have to be afraid. Our fear is based on our sins, but if Christ forgave them on the cross, then we have nothing to fear because we are in the grace of God. We are guaranteed salvation because of Jesus. That should lead us to want to proclaim about Jesus even more. We should want to share our stories with others and not be afraid of doing so. That is why testimonies are so important regarding these Easter events. Seeing people who are changed encourages others. Now, these changes might be easier to see in someone who didn’t know Jesus at all. The revelation of who Christ is can hit like a ton of bricks. But there are those who have learned about Jesus their entire lives and they might find it hard to pinpoint the moment of their change, but they cannot deny that before they knew about Jesus, but know they know Jesus and want to know him more.

I was one who didn’t know Jesus or about Jesus. In my college days, I had dark thoughts and was filled with despair often. I wasn’t suicidal or anything, but I was frustrated at everything and demoralized with my life. One day, I looked at my life, saw the darkness and realized that I didn’t want it anymore. When I made things, they were these dark and moody colors, but after that choice, I brightened up the things that I made. There was bright colors and brighter thoughts, but nothing was truly changed inside of me, but it did make me recognize that I needed changed. That decision that I made to live brighter opened my heart to eventually accept Jesus. The fear and despair that I once had would cripple me, but after the cross, in Christ alone, my outlook on life has changed. Sure, there are still unfortunate, frustrating things that happen to me and my family, but they don’t stop me from sharing God. Last week, my family went on a trip to Florida. Liam was a little sick, but we thought he would get over it, but the next morning after our arrival, Liam was covered in hives that came and went. We took him to get checked out and tested positive for the flu. Then, Lucas got sick with probably the flu. On our last day there, I started developing symptoms. Plus, before we were going to go to the airport, we stopped so my wife could meet a friend, but we ran over some piece of construction debris and our rental car got a flat tire. I attempted to change the tire, but the car fell off the jack after I got the tire off, and I dropped the tire on my toe cracking the nail and causing it to bleed. When we got home, I tried to start up my car and it wouldn’t start, the battery was dead. That is a lot of misfortune, and I could go on about how miserable of a time it was, but, through Christ, those things do not dictate how I live my life. I probably have the flu right now, but I still wrote this message and am delivering it.

I am not trying to boast in myself, but to show the change that God has made in me. I am not the same that I was. And I think that if you were to look at yourself, you can see changes that the Lord has made in you, through the only name that can bring salvation. Jesus is the only name that can bring us peace. Jesus is the only name that change us for the better. It is not just what happened at the cross, where we are healed. But it is also what happened after the cross that really changes us. He went through death and leads us in the same way. As this Easter Sunday ends, let us not forget the only name by which we must be saved: Jesus.

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Deuteronomy 23:1-25

Key Verse: 23:14

Because the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.

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