Saturday, October 18, 2014

That Name! Part 2

My last post left off where Peter and John had healed a crippled beggar on their way to temple.
The full story is in Acts 3. The book of Acts has come alive for me like never before. Maybe it’s because of what’s happening in our country and world today. Acts might be a good model to go by in these days we’re living in.

After Peter healed the lame beggar, crowds gathered to see what all the commotion was on the temple porch. When they saw the once crippled man leaping and walking around praising Jesus, they were amazed and filled with wonder.
Peter then began to explain what just happened. He gave all glory and credit to Jesus Christ, who the people had earlier rejected and sent to His death. He boldly addressed everyone explaining the truth of who Jesus is, including the prophetic history foretold about His coming.

The “men in charge” got angry because they were teaching about Jesus and His resurrection. They arrested them and threw them in jail.
What did they do that was so criminal?
Here’s the charge: Teaching in the name of Jesus.
The truth is Peter and John were a threat to their priestly power and authority. Just like Jesus was. Of course, they would never admit it.
Their reason for arresting Jesus and His followers, persecuting them and trying to stop the spread of the gospel was blasphemy of God.
But the leaders weren’t concerned about God. They used God to promote themselves. They didn’t look into the history of scripture and see that everything the prophets predicted was and is coming to pass.
This is what Peter was explaining to the crowds that day. Everything leading up to the coming Messiah, Jesus, was just as it was written on their scrolls.
So they locked Peter and John up until their hearing the next day.
Speaking in their defense Peter addressed the rulers and elders saying, “If we this day are judged for a good deed alone to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who you crucified, who God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole “ Acts 4:9-10.
The leaders admitted that a notable miracle occurred. They marveled that Peter and John were uneducated men, had been with Jesus and now taught boldly with much knowledge of scriptures. Aware that all of Jerusalem knew about it, they worried how they’d look if they convicted Peter and John.
They decided to severely threaten them to stop spreading the gospel. Before releasing them, they commanded them to not speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus to anyone.
Did it work?
So what’s the reason today that we can’t speak the name of Jesus? What are our government leaders, principals, superintendents and politicians so afraid of?
Oh, I know, the claim is, “it’s offensive to others.”
Is it because Jesus addresses the condition of our hearts and souls? Does this threaten man’s power and authority?
Why can’t a student bring a Bible to school to read during their lunchtime or later when classes are over? What’s so criminal about that? We’re told we can pray, but not in Jesus’ name.
I’ve personally been told I can’t post a flyer with the word Jesus or Christian on it.
The spread of Jesus and Christianity hasn’t stopped, despite persecution, being arrested and simply told to stop.
We’re supposed to have freedom of religion in this country. If we’re told to not talk about Jesus, pray in His name or display evidence of faith in Him, yet other religions are free to do so, is that, in fact, admitting that Christianity IS NOT a religion, but a relationship?
Could, should, would Christians today be as bold as Peter and John? Will the U. S. government someday knock on my door and threaten me for asking such questions?
Will they one day outlaw the name of Jesus on blogs and other social media platforms to stop the spread of "God so loved the world, He sent Jesus"? 
It didn’t work 2000 years ago, so I suspect it wouldn’t today.
In Jesus’ name,