Acts 3:16 — That Beautiful Name
And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.
In the October 16, 2003 edition of the Denver Post, an article revealed research done by the Social Security Administration (SSA), citing the variety of unusual names given to babies born in 2000. Fifty-five boys received the name Chevy, while 298 girls received the name Armani. While children were named after cars and clothing, some were named after alcoholic beverages such as Skyy (a brand of vodka; twenty-three were girls and six were boys) and Courvoisier (a brand of cognac). Three boys were born in 2000 with the name ESPN (pronounced Espen)! I wonder if their fathers were sports fans. The SSA also observed that one set of parents offered naming rights on their third child. The highest commercial bid would win the naming rights. When no business took the bait, the couple named their son Zane, a nickname for Zany. The writer of the Post article delves into the question, ‘Why are babies being given such odd names?’ Ms. Deam quotes Jannette Benson, a psychology professor at the University of Denver, “Names carry weight and value. What children are named reflects more about the values of the parents than their children.” The professor stated that such odd naming is not unusual, considering the names Puritans used to give their children: Faith, Hope, Charity, etc.
Names do indeed reflect values. Bible names were often given to reflect a person’s character. For example, Jacob, which means supplanter or trickster, was a man who tricked and fooled as many people as he could. Samuel, whose name means ‘heard of God’, was given his name because his mother’s prayer for his birth had been heard by God. When we say names today, we think of character. To illustrate, let us think of a few famous names. One that comes to mind is Abraham Lincoln. Honesty is associated with his name; he was nicknamed Honest Abe. Adolf Hiter brings the thought of hate to mind for his hatred of the Jews.
Acts 3 records a brief sermon preached by Peter on the name of Christ. Peter had just healed a lame man. Peter told the amazed onlookers that the same power that had healed the lame man was the very power that was denied when the Jews hung Christ on the cross. The power which the Jews denied is the very power which transforms lives. The power of Christ’s name is the power behind your sanctification. You may become a mature Christian, of perfect soundness, because of your faith in the power of Christ’s name.
Acts 3 begins in Jerusalem as Peter and John entered the Temple to pray. The eastern entrance to the temple is called the Beautiful Gate. Beggars gathered at the Beautiful Gate, hoping to glean a few coins of charity from the hundreds of people who would pass through the gate.
One man who had been lame from birth cried out to Peter for mercy in the form of money. Peter told the man that he had no money to give, but what he did have he would give. Then Peter gave the man an unusual command, telling the lame man to rise up and walk in the name of Jesus Christ. Immediately, the man was able to walk. Not only did the formerly lame man walk, he began to jump for joy. Bystanders marveled at the man because he was known for sitting at the gate to beg for alms. Everyone knew the man’s condition was physically irreversible, but now he was jumping for joy.
Peter pointed the people to the power of salvation. Peter told the people to repent because of the power of Jesus’ name. Five thousand people were saved by believing on Jesus when Peter ended his sermon. However, the religious leaders did not appreciate the message of repentance. They dragged Peter and John before the Sanhedrin to charge them with preaching in Jesus’ name. Peter boldly proclaimed, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”1
When a person believes in Christ for salvation, he is given the new name of Christians. Because we bear Christ’s name, we must live our lives for His honor and glory. Look at the lame man’s response to his healing. He jumped for joy and praised God. You and I must be active in our love for our Saviour. This does not mean that we are working our way to heaven any more than the lame man had to earn his healing. The healing had already taken place, and his rejoicing was an overflow of the miracle that had happened to him. If you look at Acts 4:14, you see that the man stood with Peter and John at their hearing before the Sanhedrin. “And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply.” The healed man stood with those who helped him. His action was not a self-centered action; his defense of the men by his simple presence at the hearing showed a heart overflowing with gratitude for what Christ had done for him.
What are your thoughts on this verse?
Do you know someone who has a bad name (ie. bad reputation)?
What does it mean that a believer bears Christ’s name?
Have you lost the freshness and joy of your salvation?