Dear Heavenly Father, Almighty God, we thank you for gathering us together in this Holy place. We pray that your Holy Spirit will fill this place and fill our hearts, so we can hear and understand your words. May the meditation from my heart and the words from my mouth flow from you and may them be pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
No Other Name?!
No Other Name?! Why the question mark? As we live in a multi-religious, multi-secular and multi-ethnic world, it is natural for someone to wonder, “Is there really no other name?” But for Christians, who have tasted the sweetness of God’s grace, we do believe it—no other name!
1. Introduction: paradox in a plural world
In our plural world, many schools of thought are becoming more popular and influential for their inspiring perspectives on, for instance, work and life. Some of the teachings even sound like what the Bible teaches us. So, if we want to proclaim that there is no other name, how are we going to do it?
2. Text: close reading
Though we are living in a different age than the apostles, let us first look at how they did it.
Acts 3 records the healing of a lame man and Peter’s public proclamation of the gospel; Acts 4 begins with the results of the preaching—the arrest of Peter and John by temple authorities. They had Peter and John brought before them and questioned them, “By what power or what name did you do this?”
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered:
“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.”
The church authorities then commanded them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus anymore, but was refused vehemently. The apostles were let go after further threats. Facing persecution, what did the church do? They prayed together. In their prayer, they said,
“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.”
3. The Name of Jesus: language of love or judgement?
The apostles and the church chose to bear witnesses to Jesus with confidence and boldness in their times. How are we going to proclaim the name of Jesus in our generation?
When we proclaim that there is no other name than the name of Jesus, let us remember that his name is a language of love, not of judgement, superiority or arrogance. Proclaim his name in a loving and patient way. His name is a language of power reversals. In today’s scripture, we have the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law, and we also have Peter and John, who were unschooled, ordinary men, but by proclaiming the name of Jesus, who was once the rejected stone but now the cornerstone, the power between the authorities and the apostles shifted. His name is a language of action with compassion. When we proclaim his name, act like it and do something that lifts it up high. His name is a language of self-reflection. Examine yourself. Are you proclaiming his name only with your mouth or with your life? Finally, his name is a language of witnesses. We are the witnesses to the saving power of our Lord and to his humility and self-giving, his willingness to lay down his life for others, to take up the cross, to overcome coercive powers and to bring peace to the world. If you want to proclaim His name, you are crucial! Bear witness to His name.
The name of our Jesus is love, self-giving, sacrifice and unconditional compassion for all. We prove there is no other name by being patient in listening, bold in proclaiming and wise in discerning ourselves.
May God be with us and bless us so that we may have His Power to bear witnesses, and proclaim that there is no other name under the Heaven given to the mankind by which we must be saved. May we bear His witnesses through our actions, words and behaviours. May God give us the courage and wisdom to do so. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.