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In times of uncertainty, disillusionment, shock, and grief, we must look to what we have in Christ. So let’s go to our utmost resource – the Name of Jesus. Can you think of anything more significant, hope-producing, exalted, beautiful, authoritative, and powerful than the Name above all names?[i] I think not, so let’s ponder it a bit.

Concerning the Christ child, the angel told Joseph, “. . . give Him the name Jesus because He will save His people from their sins” (See Matt. 1:21). Why? Because, emphasizing God’s character, love, and provision, the Name Jesus means “The Lord is Salvation.”

My memory banks have so many hymns and worship choruses stored up that exalt Jesus’ Name. Just a slight hint and they reignite within my soul. Here are a few: “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” “How Majestic is Your Name,” “His Name is Wonderful,” “In the Name of Jesus,” “Jesus, Name Above All Names,” “There’s Just Something About That Name,” “What a Beautiful Name it Is,” “There is Power in the Name of Jesus” (to break every chain . . . “). Wow, just marinate in these for a while!

Yet, Jesus’ Name is not without controversy. To those who love it, it denotes eternal life, hope, pardon, peace, reconciliation, and deliverance; to those who hate it, it is a grave threat.

Recently, I was at the Costco food court, and a Muslim woman walked by. I said, “Ma’am. . .” She turned to me, and I smiled and said, “Jesus loves you . . . He died for you . . . You can pray to Him.” She smiled back and kept walking. A man had heard me and piped up, “What! That’s the rudest thing I’ve ever heard!” Then, he came around and snapped my picture (perhaps for some blog about obnoxious people). A bit later, however, I saw the woman again, and she smiled when she saw me. I smiled at her and said, “God bless you.” She brightened again, and I did, too!

Was my witness perfect? Probably not, but I believe the Name of Jesus has power, and at least I spoke it into this Muslim woman’s mind. I pray Jesus acts upon it and cements His lovely Name into her soul. I pray she will be born again and praise His Name for all eternity! Is that too much to hope for?

In this topsy-turvy world where evil is now good and good evil, where it is OK to speak the Name of Jesus when cursing but not when praising and proclaiming, I believe the Church, “the pillar and foundation of the truth,”[ii] must show her strength. While we have always contended with sins in our nation, today, the unrestrained evil battering our culture can no longer be ignored.

Many years ago, I sang in a large choir. I remember the lyrics to one song: “Take the Name of Jesus with you, child of sorrow and of woe, it will joy and gladness bring you, take His Name wherever you go.” Several weeks ago, a man did just that. He walked into the Mall of America wearing a t-shirt displaying the Name of Jesus. Because it crossed out the “coexist” symbol (that renders the Name of Jesus no more relevant than any other religious leader’s name), mall security ordered the man to take his shirt off or leave. This made a stir, and members of a local church returned a week or so later all wearing similar Jesus t-shirts. This time, mall security avoided a bigger incident and stood down. I say bravo to these believers for refusing to let the world squeeze them into its mold![iii]

Jesus believed in His Name and had a good deal to say about it. In the Gospels, He speaks of things like welcoming children in His Name, two or three gathering in His Name, doing miracles in His Name, giving a cup of water in His Name, driving out demons and speaking in new tongues in His Name, asking and receiving in His Name, and the Holy Spirit being sent in His Name. He even warns of false messiahs arising in His Name.[iv]

As you probably remember, after Jesus died, the Apostles lost all faith in the Lord and His Name. Hunkering down behind locked doors, they feared they would be next. Moving on to the Book of Acts, however, we see that the Holy Spirit fell on the Day of Pentecost. Now, these same men proclaimed the Name of Jesus boldly, and this witness became a spiritual flashpoint.

Let’s zero in on a particular story (found in Acts 3-5). One day, Peter and John were on their way to the Temple when they encountered a crippled beggar. You know the story, but this time notice the conversation and how the Name of Jesus drove the controversy:

PETER: “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the NAME OF JESUS CHRIST of Nazareth, walk.” . . . (3:6). (The man was healed dramatically, a crowd assembled, and Peter gave testimony.) “By faith in THE NAME OF JESUS, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is JESUS’ NAME and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can see” (3:16).

THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS: “By what power or WHAT NAME did you do this?” (4:7).

PETER: “It is by the NAME OF JESUS CHRIST of Nazareth . . . that this man stands before you healed. . . Salvation is found in no one else, for there is NO OTHER NAME under heaven given to men by which we must be saved . . . (4:10, 12).

RELIGIOUS LEADERS TO EACH OTHER: “Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone IN THIS NAME” (4:16-17).

(In 4:18-21, they commanded the two apostles “not to speak or teach at all in THE NAME OF JESUS. The men refused to comply and were released.)

THE CHURCH UPON PETER AND JOHN’S RELEASE: “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through THE NAME OF YOUR HOLY SERVANT JESUS” (4:29-30).

(In 4:31, after this prayer, the meeting place was shaken, all were filled with God’s Spirit, and spoke the Word boldly. Later, in 5:17-27, the religious leaders were so jealous that they arrested Peter and the other apostles again. But an angel released them and instructed them to go preach. Again, they were called in to stand before the religious leaders.)

THE HIGH PRIEST: “We gave you strict orders not to teach in THIS NAME. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching . . .” (5:28).

PETER AND OTHER APOSTLES: “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised JESUS from the dead .. . .” (5:30).

THE EPISODE ENDS: “. . .They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak IN THE NAME OF JESUS and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace “FOR THE NAME.” Day by day . . . they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that JESUS IS THE CHRIST” (5:40-42).

Can you see how the entire eruption between the Apostles and the religious authorities was centered in one primary issue – the Name of Jesus Christ? There are more incidents in the Book of Acts; let’s look at two more significant ones:

· Peter opened the Gospel to the Gentiles by preaching at the home of Cornelius. Of Jesus’ Name, he says, “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins THROUGH HIS NAME." (10:43) (In the next verse, the Holy Spirit fell upon everyone who heard the message.)

· Paul winding up his final missionary tour, was on his way to Jerusalem and stopped by Caesarea. After the prophet Agabus warned him of grave danger ahead, everyone pleaded with him to avoid Jerusalem. But Paul replied, "Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem FOR THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS” (21:13).

Paul’s adamant response begs the question: What about believers today? Are we willing to suffer and even die for the Name of Jesus? Believers sometimes begin their prayers with “Dear God” and end with “in your name, Amen.” Umm, whose Name? I wonder how this makes Jesus feel. After all, if someone fails to call us by name, don’t we figure they either forgot it or simply don’t care? I think of Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) in the Bourne Legacy and his pained reaction to Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) not knowing his name. (FYI, he was just a number to her. You can see the clip below at the link in the footnotes.[v])

So, please, let’s honor the Name of Jesus! It is eternally worthy and powerful! The Early Church had faith in its authority and saw miracles. We can, too!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please bless us with a fresh revelation of the beauty, power, and majesty of Your Name! What a gift it is! Let us fully believe in Your Name. May we speak it boldly and fearlessly throughout our days. May the Holy Spirit use our faith-filled utterances to sow Your glory into the very atmosphere around us, seeding the heavens with Your truth and reality. May it dispel the darkness of this present age and impact multitudes for salvation. We know time is short, and we pray for that final Great Spiritual Awakening that crushes all resistance. “Thy Kingdom Come, and Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.” In Your precious and holy Name, JESUS, we pray . . . Amen!

"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that AT THE NAME OF JESUS every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father"[vi]


[i] See Philippians 2:9 [ii] 1 Timothy 3:15 [iii] From Rom. 12:2, J.B. Phillips: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within . . .” [iv] See Matthew 18:5, 20; 24:5; Mark 9:37, 39, 41; 13:6, 16:17; Luke 9:48, 21:8; John 14:13-14, 26, 15:16, 16:23-24, 26 [v] Bourne Legacy “Name” clip: [vi] Philippians 2:9-11



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