Thursday, April 07, 2016

In the Name

They knew they had done nothing wrong. In fact, it was a work of mercy of the highest order, the very sort that their Master used to do. Now they would continue, for His sake and in His name. But they also knew exactly why they had been arrested – because they had done this act of healing in the name of the One whom the priestly party had condemned to death with agitated ferocity.

It had been a completely spontaneous response. A crippled beggar had asked for money, but they had none to give, so they had given what they could. “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I will give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And the man had done just that, jumping up and putting the new-found strength in his legs through its paces, all the while praising god for this miraculous gift.

And the crowd was astounded. The ripples of attention spread out rapidly as the immediate witnesses told others what had just happened. “Did you see that?” they said to one another, and soon everyone was thronging around to see for themselves, for the crippled beggar was well-known. An explanation was in order, and Peter and John were only too happy to give it. The very Jesus who had been handed over to death by the people of Jerusalem, was the one whom God had raised from the dead, and they were His witnesses to proclaim this wonder to the world. And men believed.

But the priestly council, the same people who had bribed the soldiers to cover up the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, were not pleased at all, so they had arrested  and imprisoned Peter and John, and now they were going to question them. “By what power or name did you do this?”

It was the crucial question, and the answer was the resurrected Jesus, the same person whom these very men, gathered here, had condemned to death and turned over to the Roman authorities to be crucified. And now they had the opportunity to preach of their Christ to the ones who were his murderers. Peter did not hesitate. He had met the risen Lord, he had been filled, changed and renewed by the Holy Spirit. He was no longer the one who had denied his Master three times before the cock crowed twice on that fateful night.  In the name of Jesus, their crucified and risen Lord, they had raised a crippled beggar to walk on his own strong legs, to the praise and glory of God. There was, after all, no other name under heaven by which men might be saved.