Please begin with prayer for an open heart, before you read the passage below. Acts 3:1-10 – One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
This is an interesting text and I think it links well with the Matthew 16:13-20 (read this too!!) that we looked at Sunday. I think our culture has grown somewhat complacent with the power of names. In 1st Century Jewish culture, names were of great importance. How many of you in reading your Bibles have come to a genealogy that lists dozens of names and just skipped over it? Be honest, I know you don’t meditate on these…yes, I typically skip them too! In studying them though, there is great intentionality and significance with each name listed.
People were given names based on circumstances and also in conferring identity to the child. Names throughout Scripture have significance---Moses, ‘to draw out’ (of water!), Isaac, ‘laughter’ (i.e. my parents had me when they were really, really, old!), and Jesus, literally means ‘the Lord saves’. We choose baby names for all sorts of reasons---popularity, favorite celebrity, we lost a bet (see Cowboy fan that named their baby Robert Griffin after the ‘Skins beat the Cowboys!), or at most in honor of a relative. I can see the kid named Robert Griffin, asking his parents later in life why they chose that name...well, son, your mom lost a bet to me so I named you after the quarterback!! How would that make you feel? No matter what our parents named us or why they chose our name, we as believers receive new names that bring tremendous value!
Notice as Peter was speaking to this crippled man that he said, ‘In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ There is power in the eternal and temporal realms with the name of Jesus! No other name has this type of authority. Peter knew that he didn’t have any power, apart from Jesus, to help this man at all. I also love how the crippled man was expecting something, but I don’t think he was expecting what he got. At most, he probably hoped for a few coins to get some dinner that day, but Jesus radically changed his life forever!
Back to Matthew 16, which is a deeply, disputed text. Notice that Jesus renames Simon to Peter (meaning ‘detached rock’---significance in Peter’s life!) and then says upon this rock (different word meaning ‘bedrock’) I will build my church. So, I don’t think Jesus literally means Peter, but more likely Peter’s previous confession, where he says, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus goes onto say that ‘on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.’
Gates are made to keep things out and also keep things in. My sense is the gates of Hades (Hell) had power through sin and death over humanity. We are all in bondage and unable to get out. Jesus was sent to save us from this and bust down the gates that were holding us captive. Just like we saw the powerless, crippled man that needed intervention, we all need intervention by the mighty work of Jesus to break down the power of sin and death in our lives. Then Jesus gives Peter, and all believers, the commissioning to take this confession and power in Jesus name to go and break down more gates and set the prisoners free for all eternity! Jesus has conferred upon Peter and us the power and authority, only by the power of His name as demonstrated through His death, resurrection, and ascension.
It’s like the biggest game of freeze tag ever---we have been caught and are ‘imprisoned’, someone came to set us free, once we are freed we are called to go and free as many people as possible before time runs out! Silver and gold we may not be able to give, but life, peace, joy, forgiveness, and identity we can give freely to all we encounter, through the name and power of Jesus.
Do you recognize the power in Jesus’ name? Do you see yourself as one commissioned with the keys of the kingdom, to unlock the gates of hell? Do you see yourself being renamed ‘child of God’? I would love to hear your journey and how this passage impacted you.