May 3, 2009
?Fourth Sunday After Easter (B)
Acts 4:5-12

Ever since Adam named the animals, we have been fascinated with names. New parents spend countless hours choosing names for their sons and daughters. Lovers may not be able to lasso the moon and give it away as George Bailey promised Mary in It’s a Wonderful Life, but for a few bucks they can have a star named in their loved one’s honor.
Those of us who lived through the ’70s recall the popularity of the Citizens’ Band (C.B.) radio. No one on the C.B. had a “name” but a “handle.” Names are natural handles for grabbing someone’s attention. How often in a crowded room have you snapped your head around, as if someone grabbed you by the collar, because you thought you heard your name? Psychologically, names of diseases make us feel better. When the doctor is finally able to put a name to our sickness, it eases our pain because we assume that if the affliction can be named, it can be cured. From antiquity people believed names to possess a magical quality. Knowing a spirit’s name gave one a handle to control the spirit.
Shakespeare penned, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The mangled version of that quote has it that “a rose by any other name is still a rose”-the implication being that names are arbitrary. They may be full of sound and fury but in the end signify nothing. Really? What then are we to make of that story from last December about the New Jersey boy named “Adolf Hitler,” whose name the local grocery store refused to put on a birthday cake? Contra the popular “a rose is still a rose” postmodern blather, names still mean something.
What about the name “Jesus”? It-and its Old Testament equivalent “Joshua”-was a common enough name in ancient Israel and still is in Latin America. To some, “Jesus” is a byword, a profane utterance. To others His name is a talisman-speak it and wonderful things will happen.
In Acts 3 and 4 Jesus’ name is front and center-mentioned in Acts 3:6, Acts 3:16; Acts 4:7, Acts 4:10, Acts 4:12, Acts 4:17-18 and Acts 4:30. In Jesus’ name Peter and John healed a man who laid daily at Gate Beautiful of the temple begging for handouts. Instead, Peter gave him a miraculous hand up (4:7). When that man who was formerly lame went leaping and singing and praising God into the temple, a crowd gathered and the apostles had some explaining to do.
The following day, Israel’s rulers wanted to know by what right, i.e., in whose name, this work was done. Peter declared “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” “Christ,” i.e., Messiah, located Jesus historically as the long-awaited hope of Israel. “Nazareth” located Jesus geographically as the lowly servant of God. Then Peter further identified, testified and magnified this Jesus with clarifications that bespoke His singular fame.
“Whom ye crucified.” No other name bespeaks crucifixion like “Jesus.” Hundreds upon thousands upon millions were crucified in the ancient world, yet to this day we remember pre-eminently, if not solely, the crucifixion of Christ. At the sight of a crucifix, our hearts whisper “Jesus.”
“Whom God raised from the dead.” No other name bespeaks resurrection like “Jesus.” He announced to Martha, “I am the resurrection.” He raised others during His lifetime, but all of those folks subsequently died. Jesus arose never to die again.
“By Him this man stands whole.” No other name bespeaks restoration like “Jesus.” Mankind fell on Eden’s floor and broke into a million pieces. Today we lead jagged, ragged lives; but one day His followers will stand in Him complete.
“The rejected stone is now the cornerstone.” No other name bespeaks exaltation like “Jesus.” At the name of “Jesus” every knee will bow.
In sum, there is salvation in no other. No other name bespeaks salvation like “Jesus.” In no movie have I ever heard a hard-pressed soul cry out to Allah, Buddha or any other. As in the chart-topping single, it’s always “JESUS, take the wheel.”
For all He is, for all He has done, we rightfully sing, “No other name but the name of Jesus is worthy of glory, and worthy of honor, and worthy of power and all praise.”

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No Other Name
(Lectionary Starters)

Third Sunday after Easter, Year B
May 11, 2003
Acts 4:5-12
Gary Robinson, Pastor, Conneautville Church of Christ, Conneautville, PA

Shakespeare's Juliet asked, "What's in a name?" If God had commanded that His Son be given any other name, it would perhaps smell as sweet to some — or as foul to others. But "Jesus" is the name He wears. Twenty centuries haven't damped its power.

I. No other name is so powerful

Just the day before the events described in our text, Peter's faith in Jesus had literally pulled a paraplegic to his feet. The name of Jesus had turned a perpetual sitter, a pitiful observer of life, into an amazingly active participant — "walking and leaping and praising God" (Acts 3:8).

This unchained beggar, freed to worship God with his whole body, reminds me of the Turkana people Kenya. They dance in worship, literally jumping up and down at the name of Jesus. No doubt about it, Jesus puts people on the move! In Mozambique, people come streaming out of the hills by the power of His name. They're coming to worship. The name of Jesus has broken chains of slavery and walls of oppression. It has healed so many in so many ways. No other name is so powerful, but, for that very reason . . .

II. No other name is so opposed

Turn the page and see the somber side of the name of Jesus. See where jealous and fretful men first hung the price tag on the proclamation of His name.

When journalist Ann Coulter suggested that the best response to the terrorist attacks was to invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity, she lost her job. World magazine comments, "It was not so much her invade-and-kill suggestions . . . but rather her belief that Muslims stand in need of the gospel."

It's one of the great ironies of our day that the omnipresent American media prides itself on its "openness" and "tolerance" yet has so little tolerance for the preaching of Christ. Powerful as the media is, however, it doesn't speak for everybody. Talk to real people in real churches. Listen to them tell their stories of fruitless searches for love and light; so many blind alleys, so many false leads until they met . . . a certain Man. They'll gladly affirm with Peter and John . . .

III. No other name will save

"You will give Him the name Jesus," the angel told the carpenter Joseph, "for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). In Hebrew, His name is Yeshua, "God saves." Even before birth, the Son of God wore His Father's name and purpose like a badge. The strength and vitality He restored to a cripple's body He wants to restore to our souls.

There are a lot of would-be saviors out there, hawking their systems with the vigor of old time street corner newsboys. They offer everything from complex cognitive systems to inane psychobabble. They offer belief in everything — and nothing. "There are many truths," they'll say — until reality catches up with them and backs them into a corner, snarling. Suddenly, that "old time religion" and its Founder doesn't seem like a bad idea after all!

We have no idea, no system to offer; nothing but a name and the Man who wears it. He knows your name, He sees each tear that falls, and — trust me — He'll hear you when you call!

"Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there's something about that Name." Take, then, the name of Jesus with you, child of sorrow and of woe. It will joy and comfort give you; take it, then, wherever you go.

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