Peter quoted from the Psalms as he answered the religious powerbrokers about the power, he had invoked to heal the man at the gate of the Temple. While he quoted only one verse, those religious scholars would have known the context and the MAX message that surrounded the verse and should have heard Peter’s poignant and urgent message to them about the gate of the LORD and salvation:
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.
I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
(Psalm 118:19-24 ESV)
Even though Peter spoke to those who intended to harm him, he was extending the offer of salvation outward into eternity. YAHWEH, the LORD, the covenant God of Israel, had done through Jesus all that is in this great Messianic psalm.
The assembled religious leaders Peter was addressing could turn and accept Jesus as the cornerstone and be saved or not. It could be a day of rejoicing and not of accusation. For rejoicing to reign, people must turn to Jesus, recognize what he has done as being marvelous in their eyes because he is the only name, the only person, who is the foundation of grace and by whom we are saved!
Acts 4:1-12 NRSV
Peter and John before the Council
4 While Peter and John[a] were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, 2 much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. 3 So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.
5 The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, [b] and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 When they had made the prisoners[c] stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,[d] whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11 This Jesus[e] is
‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
it has become the cornerstone.’[f]
12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
The book of Acts is filled with stories of amazing devotion, and it reads like the script of a movie.
Acts 3, when Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer. They were both evidently on their way to a large colonnaded area known as Solomon’s Portico. As they entered the temple there was a lame man sitting in front of the Gate Beautiful, and he asked them for a gift.
Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I to thee. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
Peter reached down and grabbed the man’s hand and pulled him to his feet. Suddenly the man’s feet and legs received strength and he want walking and leaping and praising God into the temple. A great crowd gathered on Solomon’s Portico, and Peter began preaching the, Gospel But his sermon was interrupted when the temple police came, pushed through the crowd and arrested the two disciples. That’s where we pick up the devotional story today in chapter 4.
When he is giving testimony in Acts 4, Peter asks the Temple Authorities if the healing of a lame man is a good deed or not. If this is an act of kindness, then it must come from God. The obvious answer seems to be yes, it is a good deed from God. If they agree it is a good deed from God, then they have a problem:
Peter states the man was healed by the name of Jesus of Nazareth, the one put to death by this very council only two months before!
The problem for the High Priest is obvious. If Peter healed the man “in the name of Jesus” that means that Jesus was, at the very least, an innocent man and God is now doing miracles “in the name of Jesus.”
If Jesus was innocent, then the High Priest is guilty of killing an innocent man. If he was Messiah and actually raised to the right hand of God, then the coming messianic age has begun, and the High Priest finds himself “on the outside.”
The last line of Peter’s defense is a classic statement of the gospel: “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
This is a bold, strong statement of total dedication to Jesus Christ. There is no possibility of religious pluralism, Jesus is in fact the only way, truth and life. If humans (these people before Peter or any human) expect to be right with God, they can only do it through the name of Jesus.
This is really an outgrowth of the belief that God raised Jesus from the dead and seated him on his right hand. The name of Jesus is now the highest authority possible, so Paul can say in Phil 2 that at the name of Jesus every knew will bow.
There is a remarkable and radical boldness in this statement which must not be under-estimated, but from the modern perspective of religious pluralism. The boldness is that uneducated Galilean Peter is saying this to a group of highly educated, highly respected, highly religious Jews who thought that they were the only ones who held the right way to salvation. “If you wanted to be right with God, you had to “humbly” come to them and hear their interpretation of the Law and participate in worship only in the Temple, which they control.
Peter is saying that salvation now comes through Jesus, not the Temple. Little wonder why these men were shocked at Peter’s boldness!
The Great Rabbi Gamaliel had cautioned them.
If all of this were an invention of man’s mind alone – it will very soon go away.
If it were a thing of God – there was nothing anyone could ever do to stop it.
Now, everything was becoming real!
Now, the stark implications of these past two months since the crucifixion was revealing for all, a living and unstoppable thing of God in the eyes of the people.
It was coming from an uneducated man – a man close to the everyday people. The people saw uneducated Peter stand boldly before thousands and speak the same words Jesus spoke as he walked among them. Jesus died. But the Word is continuing to emanate forth with an authority not of the Temple Leadership.
The people were listening to Peter. They heard the tongues being spoken. Had heard Peter recite God’s Holy Scriptures, and were convicted by the Holy Spirit.
They came to Peter literally by the thousands and were baptized and the Church was born. They gathered as a believing community as they had not done under the authority of the Temple leadership. The Temple leaders were losing ground. They were fast losing the respect of the people. Jesus whom they killed – LIVED!
Now it was real.
The words of this man Jesus were coming to life too – and they could not stop it! They could not command the people to not speak of Jesus without losing it all! It was all becoming crystal clear to them – they could only remember the events which had led up to this “no return now” moment of incalculable implications
Before, they heard Jesus had taught his disciples about what would happen to them because of him and his name. He had told them that they would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. He had told them that they would be hated because of him. He told them that they would be handed over to rulers and authorities–and much worse–because of him. They thought it had all ended when they had him humiliated as the ultimate criminal – crucified – crucified!
Now Peter and John were before them, under arrest of the Sanhedrin, perhaps eerily familiar to what happened to their beloved Teacher not too long before. All were gathered – they were experiencing exactly what Jesus had foretold.
But, instead of fear, there was a definite change, there was boldness. Peter and John did not back down. Would they, could they refuse to talk about Jesus? And would, could they obey men rather than God? They couldn’t and they wouldn’t.
Why? Why be so resilient? Why ignore the threat of prison, torture, or death?
They had surveyed the humiliation of cross for themselves.
Had a long three-day chance to think about it, its implications for them.
They had both peered into Rabbi Jesus’ tomb and found it to be EMPTY!
The Jesus Himself returned to the Upper Room – through a locked door!
Convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt – They stood before the authorities.
Peter gives us the only reason that matters: Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
Peter and John were convinced! Had their lives changed because they came to know salvation through Jesus. They also knew that other people had to know about this too, for there is no other way of salvation except through Jesus alone!
No other message mattered to them in that moment! So today, we Christians who also are persecuted. Perhaps not in America at the same level as the early disciples were, or even as other Christians around the globe are persecuted.
But regardless of how much or little we are oppressed or persecuted now or in the future, the message remains – Salvation is in Jesus! We will not back down!
1. When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.
2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.
3. See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.
4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all. (Isaac Watts, 1707)
God has worked in our hearts faith to know and believe salvation through Jesus.
That faith is so empowering, so overwhelming that we also can’t help but boldly share what we have seen and heard. Other people need to know about Jesus to.
So fellow Christian, without ceasing: Testify! Witness! Preach! Teach! The only name, no other power, no other option under heaven that matters for Salvation!
I Pledge My Allegiance to the Lamb of God …..
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
O LORD God, Father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus, you are my only Abba Father. I love you. I see your love for me poured out in what Jesus did for me and for all others because we all need salvation. Thank you for sending him — thank you for YOU coming in human flesh in Jesus to show us this love. Your work, your plan, your salvation, and, most of all, a Savior sent for me are marvelous. Thank you for such a great salvation. In Jesus’ name, I offer my thanks and my heart. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.