By Jen Akin
It was a bitterly cold day in January. The kind where breathing hurts and fingers turn blue the instant they are exposed. My husband and I were “just friends” at the time and he was living with a group of guys in an apartment on the east side of Milwaukee. One of his roommates needed to get to work and was out in the alley trying to start his Pontiac Grand Am with no success. Having exhausted all options, fingers numb, the car's owner drew on his deep Pentecostal roots. He suggested to his roommates that they all lay hands on the engine and pray. Five twenty-something guys huddled around, each with one hand on the engine and the other in the air, calling on the name of Jesus. The car started. You might surmise some engine part thawed enough from the heat of their hands, or something clicked at just the right time. But every last one of these guys will tell you it was Jesus. This experience left them all elated and significantly humbled.
Early in Acts chapter four, Peter and John have just come fresh off a miracle. A lame man was now walking after they invoked the name of Jesus on his behalf. In the aftermath of this encounter, these faithful men are getting grilled by the high priest, rulers and elders of the day. Clearly threatened and confused by this demonstration of power to heal, and looking for a way to bring strong accusation, the leaders question by what authority this healing occurred. Peter and John answer directly and honestly – Jesus. This miracle was under the authority and power of the one who was crucified, buried and resurrected. (v10) Further, they assure these rulers and law enforcers that there is no other name by which anyone can be saved. (v12)
In contrast to the political and religious leaders struggling for reason that jived with how they thought, both Steve and his roommates, and Peter and John, took the opportunity to act upon the belief that there is ultimate and unparalleled power in the name of Jesus. They also recognized their humble position. Any glory for the result did not belong to them, but they could have joy in participating where the Lord was moving.
I battle needing to give reasonable and rational argument for things that need no other explanation than Jesus. I am cautious about “over-spiritualizing.” But, self-sufficiency and human reasonability can quickly become barriers to experiencing the movement and the power of the Holy Spirit. I think of the father in Mark 9, who desperately wants his son to be healed and cries, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” (v24) In this moment, he sets down “reasonability” and chooses to dive headlong into trust that Jesus can do it, faith that the Lord may see fit to act upon the request, and hope that his son will be freed. In the midst, he knows he will continue to struggle with unbelief, and this is the place where he needs healing so he can experience the power and presence of Jesus.
Just like that father, I am aware that I struggle in this place. Maybe you do too?
Lord, thank you that there is no other name with power and dominion comparable to the name of Jesus. Thank you that you desire us to know you, love you, trust you and follow you. We invite you into those places where that is difficult. Help us overcome our unbelief and dive headfirst into the joy it is to be in your presence for your purposes.
In the mighty name of Jesus, the name above all names, Amen.