“The Name of Jesus”
Hello, and welcome to "Key to the Kingdom." My name is Bret McCasland. One of the most prized possessions all of us have is our name. Except on very rare occasions, no one can take our name away from us, unless we allow it to happen. It is the foundation of our identity. It is what most people call us. Yes, our name is important, and we will do whatever we can to protect it. We can also say the name of people who made a difference in our world, or even in our own individual lives. When we do, others know to whom we are referring. Yes, names are important. And the same is true with names in the Bible. For example, when we say the name Abraham, Moses, David, or Paul, many people recognize it, and know the story behind it. That is especially true with God. He is referred to in a variety of ways, from the great I Am to Our Heavenly Father. Oh, it seems the world revolves around people's names. Well, there is one name, however, that is said to be the sweetest name ever heard. It is the name Jesus; Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God; Jesus, the way the truth and the life. Yes, there is something special about that name. The greatest thing about the name Jesus is that it is the only name by which anyone can be saved. It is only through the name of Jesus that we receive the free gift of eternal life. For the next few minutes, we will look at how the name of Jesus changes our life, and brings us into fellowship with God. I hope you will stay tuned to this station as we study not only the name of Jesus, but what and who it represents.
The book called Acts, found in the New Testament part of the Bible, is filled with many unique and interesting stories. Now, before we get to one found in the 4th chapter, I want to set the scene for what is happening. After Jesus' resurrection from the dead, He appeared to His followers, or apostles, for a period of about 40 days. And during that time, He taught them many things about the kingdom of God. He prepared them even further for what life would be like after His physical presence left them. And then, He gave to his apostles a commission, which is found in chapter 1 verse 8. He told them to remain right there in the city of Jerusalem until they receive power from God on high. And then, they were to be His witnesses, or representatives; not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth. And after Jesus told his apostles that, He ascended into heaven. He went to live at the right hand of God, where He continues to reign throughout all of the universe. Now, about a week later, these same followers, or apostles, gathered in the city of Jerusalem to decide what to do next. The first order of business was for them to select a man to replace Judas. Oh, you might remember, Judas was the one who betrayed Jesus to the authorities, which led to His death on the cross; and, once he realized what he had done, he took his own life. And now, the remaining apostles had to choose someone to take his place. This man had to have seen Jesus throughout His ministry, and witnessed His miracles, and heard His message. He was also one to have seen Jesus after His resurrection from the grave. And as they were thinking about that, and praying about it, the Holy Spirit led them to choose a man by the name of Mathias; and, he then became that next apostle. Well, while they were in Jerusalem, they celebrated the day of Pentecost, which was 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus. It was on the first day of the week. You might remember that some seven weeks earlier was the Passover feast, and it was during that time when Jesus was crucified and buried in a tomb, and then He rose from the dead. And so, thousands of people, from not only Jerusalem but the surrounding nations, came to remember that special occasion, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And as they were there, the apostles were filled up with God's power; just like Jesus said would happen back in chapter 1 and verse 8. And God's power, or God's Spirit came up on them in the form of a tongue of fire, and these men began to speak in languages they had never studied nor learned. Yet, they were the very same languages that were spoken by the thousands of people who had come from everywhere for the day of Pentecost, there in Jerusalem. Oh, it was confusing to the people. They did not understand what was happening. In fact, they even accused these apostles of being drunk with wine. And then, one of them named Peter, on behalf of the rest, spoke and said, "We are not drunk with wine, rather we are filled up with God's Holy Spirit. For you see, it is only 9:00 in the morning, and by the power, and by the Spirit of God, He has entrusted a message to us to share with you." And on that occasion according to chapter 2, the apostle Peter spoke to this large group of people. He reminded them of their ancestry and their forefathers, and some of the events that had happened many, many years earlier. And then, he told them how Jesus Christ, the Son of God, fit in to that whole story. He talked about Jesus' ministry upon the earth, and His message and His miracles. And then, Peter did something quite unusual. He spoke to the people, and he said, "You are the ones guilty of putting God's Son to death." He accused them of being guilty of crucifying Jesus Christ upon the cross, because they had rejected Him, they had rejected His message. Oh, and that touched those people. And so, they responded to Peter, and they asked a very simple question, in that 2nd chapter, verse 37. They simply said, "Peter, what shall we do?" In other words, how do we respond? How do we make up for the sin in our life, and for rejecting God's one and only Son? What do we do? Where do we go from here? And Peter told them in the next verse, "Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ." We continue on in the last part of chapter 2, and we notice that some 3000 people did that very thing on that day. They turned away from their sin, they were baptized or immersed in the name of Jesus, and then they received the promise from God. Their sin was washed away and forgiven, and God's Spirit, God's presence came to live within them. Oh, what an amazing story, an exciting time in the lives of these people as they understood and recognized who Jesus was, and what He had done for them through His death, and burial and resurrection. Well, later on, Peter and another apostle named John went to the Jerusalem temple to pray, for it was the hour to pray. And as they entered the temple, they saw a man there sitting by the gate who had never before walked, and he was begging for money. He was seeking anything that anybody would give to him in order to survive through the day. Peter and John simply said, "We don't have any money to give to you, but what we do have we will share with you. By the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk." Now, can you imagine the expression on this man's face? He had never done that before. He had never walked a day. He had seen other people doing it, and he perhaps wondered, well, what is that like for me? And Peter took him by the hand, and raised him up, and this man began to walk and run everywhere throughout the temple area. He was rejoicing and praising the name of God. Yes, Peter and John performed a miracle on that day, because they were filled up with God's power that had come up on them there in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. And many other people were there in the temple, and they saw this, they witnessed it with their own eyes, and it gave Peter and John another opportunity to share about Jesus. And if we look closely at that message there in the 3rd chapter, we find that some of the very same things they had shared back in chapter 2 are shared again with these people. The focus is on Jesus. The emphasis is on Jesus being God's one and only Son; His message and His miracles, His death on the cross, His burial in a tomb, and then His resurrection from the grave. And all of the people listened very closely to what they had to say. They were interested in knowing more about Jesus. And then, we notice that many believed in Jesus as God's Son. They too repented of their sin, and they were baptized into the name of Jesus Christ. 3000 of the people did that back in chapter 2, and now we read here in the 4th chapter, the number of believers had risen to some 5000 people. News about Jesus Christ was spreading quickly. Everybody was hearing this good news story that the apostles were sharing, and they were responding to it. And that no doubt upset the Jewish authorities. They did not like what was happening. They did not like the people giving their attention to these apostles, and to a man who was no longer living among them. They were upset, even to the point they threw Peter and John into prison. Well, the next day, all of these authorities came out to question these two apostles. Everybody who was anybody in the religious circles was there; a high priest, and the elders, and the religious leaders, and the scribes, and the Pharisees. Everybody wanted to come out and ask Peter and John a question. And here's the question, found in the 4th chapter, verse 7: <"By what power or what name did you do this?"> They wanted to know by what power did they have that they could ask a man to rise up and walk. How did you get that power, by what name or authority did you do such an amazing miracle? And then they seemed to want to know something else too. By what power and what authority are you speaking so boldly about this man Jesus, God's Son? If we were there on that occasion, we might say, "What's the big deal about Jesus? Why is He so special? Why is He so important, and why does He receive so much attention?" Yes, they wanted to know why this powerful message was leading thousands of people into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and becoming His follower. Well, obviously, Peter has an answer for them, and that answer is found in that 4th chapter. Let's read verses 8 through 12. <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 the builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.' Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."> Well, there it is. There is Peter's answer to the question; and, it's interesting to note that he is still filled up with God's power, or with God's Spirit, as he gives this answer: "It is by the name of Jesus that this crippled man is healed. It is by the name of Jesus, the One who was crucified and raised from the dead that people are changing their life, and becoming one of His followers." Throughout Jesus' ministry, people rejected Him. They did not believe that He was the Messiah, prophesied in the old Scriptures. They did not believe that he was God's Son. They did not believe His message. Oh, they received His miracles, but it did not change their hearts or their lives. But now, once these apostles began to share the story of Jesus and how it related to them, their hearts were being touched and their lives were being changed. Yes, something different was happening. They were coming to recognize that it was the name of Jesus that was so important. And they found out that salvation, eternal life, was found only in Him. Oh, everything else had been tried with no results. Everyone else had offered a solution, but nothing had worked. It was only by the name and the power of Jesus Christ that one could receive this free gift from God. Now, that is still true today. We can make that same statement that Peter made, there in verse 12; that, there is no other name under heaven given to man by which we must be saved. Jesus was, and is, and always will be, the only name that brings salvation to this world. These first four chapters of the book of Acts emphasize Jesus. They focus on the story of His death up on the cross, His burial in a tomb, and then His resurrection from the dead; His triumphant resurrection on that third day. They mention His ascension into heaven, where He reigns at God's right hand, and then they focus on the story of salvation that comes through His powerful, and mighty and beautiful name, the name of Jesus Christ. Yes, these stories, or these chapters, tell the stories of people who believe in Him, and who decide to give their life to Him, and submit to Him as their lord and savior. Sometimes, when I think about our religious world today, it seems quite different from what happened in these first four chapters. Often times, we have religious discussions and debates about things in regards to the subject of religion, and Jesus Christ is left out of that whole discussion; that Jesus is secondary compared to all of the other things that seem to make a difference in our life, and yet we seem to leave Jesus aside. We focus on those things that matter to us instead of that matter to Him and to the Lord God Almighty. Jesus even experienced that in His own ministry. Often times, He would visit with, or have discussions and debates with the religious leaders of the day; people like these religious authorities we read about there in the 4th chapter. And they were going back to those old Scriptures and they were thinking about the coming Messiah. And when Jesus came and said, "I am He that you are looking for," they questioned that. And Jesus would debate, and He would discuss that matter with them, and they did not see Jesus as the Son of God. That is illustrated by these words from Jesus, found in the gospel of John chapter 5 verse 39: <"You searched the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life. And it is they that bear witness about Me, yet you refused to come to Me that you may have life."> These religious leaders believed they could find eternal life in the more they knew and the more they understood about the Scriptures. And yet, Jesus said, "All of those Scriptures point to Me, and yet you don't come to Me to experience that life, which I freely give to you." Yes, the point is, the name of Jesus brings eternal life. The power of Jesus is found in His resurrection from the grave. The story of salvation is incomplete without Jesus being at the center of it. No matter who we are, and no matter where we live, the name of Jesus still offers salvation to each and every person on the face of this Earth today. It does not matter where you live, or the color of your skin. It does not matter what language you speak. It does matter your age, old or young. It does not matter if you are male or female. It does not matter your economic situation in life. The name of Jesus Christ is still powerful to bring salvation to you, and to me, and to every other person on the face of this Earth. A man by the name of the Apostle Paul received that salvation, and wrote about it. He wrote some 14 letters here in the New Testament. In the one called Romans, he wrote these words, in chapter 1 and verse 16: <I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.> Paul lets it be known that he is not ashamed. He is not embarrassed of the salvation that he has received from Jesus Christ. It was important to him; and, he spent his life sharing that very same message with everybody. He went to the Jews first, and then he went to the Gentiles. And over and over again, he said, "Look at the powerful message of God. Look at the power of salvation that comes to you through the powerful name of Jesus Christ." The power of God is in His Son. It is in His death, and His burial, and His resurrection. And when we believe that, and respond to it, then we too can receive that gift of salvation. I'm reminded of that most often quoted and memorized statement in the Bible, in John chapter 3 verse 16: <For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.> God loves you, and He loves me more than we could ever imagine. And through that love, He sent His Son to die for us. And now, by believing upon Him and responding to Him, just like these people here in the book of Acts, we too can receive eternal life. And so with those things in mind, we ask ourself a logical question. How then can we possibly ignore the power and the person and the name of Jesus? Now, obviously, the answer is, we cannot. Hebrews 13 verse 8 tells us, <Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.> My friend, that is good news, isn't it? The name of Jesus Christ, that saved so many people in the book of Acts, is still powerful and effective to save you and me today. And when we think about that, we recognize that, yes, He is our only source of salvation. We recognize there is no one else to whom we turn, because He is the one who has the words of eternal life. And my prayer for you today is that you will recognize there is power in the name of Jesus, God's one and only Son. My prayer for you is that you will recognize there is the forgiveness of sin that comes because Jesus Christ took the burden of sin with Him to the cross; and, you can have the forgiveness of that sin. I also pray that you will recognize there is the hope of heaven, because Jesus Christ himself rose from the grave on that third day, and we too can do likewise. I pray today that you will recognize there is power in the precious name of Jesus Christ, God's one and only Son.
As you can see, I am standing under a very unusual street sign. It's called Short Street. And as I look down this street, I can see that, indeed, this is a rather short street. Now, not far from here there is another street called Long Street. And that's interesting, isn't it? And that's the way it is in the city in which I live. There are a number of unusual street names; but, names are important to us. In fact, some of us have some very unique and unusual names. We think about the names that we give our children. Proverbs 22 verse 1 says that a good name is more precious than many riches. Yes, names are important. There is one name, however, that is more important than all other names. It is the name Jesus. And that is the name of God's one and only Son, Jesus Christ. In Hebrew, that is the name Joshua, and that name means savior. And that's who Jesus is, Jesus is our Savior. He came to this world to redeem and set us free from sin. The name Jesus Christ means salvation. It means that He is the way to a relationship with God. He is the way the truth and the life, and He is the one who offers light to this world. I hope you know that name, Jesus. I hope that name, Jesus, means something very important to you. But more importantly, I hope you know the person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and that He is your savior.
Thank you for joining us for today's episode. I trust this simple, yet important lesson from the Bible reminded us how important it is to know the name Jesus, and to appreciate the salvation He offers. This lesson is available on our website. If you would like to hear or view it again, go to keytothekingdom.com, where you can download it in a variety of formats. There is no cost or obligation to do so. Many other lessons are there as well, and they too require no cost or commitment. Several different resources are also on the site, which might assist you in your daily walk with the Lord. There are even study questions at the end of each lesson, which allow you to look closer at your own spiritual life. If you have any questions about this ministry, please call the number on the screen. Leave your name and the best way for us to contact you, and we will be happy to do so. And finally, if you have not already done so, find and like us on Facebook. Each week, short inspirational videos are uploaded, which are designed to make the Bible's message practical and relevant. Once again, thank you for being our guest for today's episode. I invite you to join us again next time, as we study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom."