The Power of “Faith in His Name” (Sat. May 8)

Christ is Risen!

The word of the day is “name.”  Whenever someone does something outside the expectations of normal behavior, people are bound to ask, “Where did he or she  get this?”  Today in our reading of Acts 3:11-16, Peter and John explain the healing of the lame man in the Temple to the astonished onlookers. Peter claims the source of the miracle is the Prince of Life, whom God raised from the dead (OSB vs. 16).  He says, “And His name, by faith in His name, has made the man strong whom you  see and know” (OSB vs. 16).

What the Name Represents

What is in the “name”?  The name represents all that the Lord is.  To do something in the name of Jesus Christ is to act in and by the Lord’s power, rank, authority, character, glory, goodness, graciousness, deeds, etc.

Peter stood before the bewildered crowd to represent this Name of Jesus Christ.  That is, He acted as the Lord’s agent.  He insisted that he did not perform the miracle by His own “power or godliness” (OSB vs. 12).  Rather He spoke as one who had been designated to act on behalf of the “Prince of Life.”

From the world’s point of view, it was an audacious claim.  Jesus Christ is no mere mortal, not even a king or emperor, but He is the One whom God has raised from the dead.  Yet Peter was authorized to act as the Lord of Life’s instrument.  So as Jesus took Peter’s mother by the hand and lifted her up (OSB 1:31) and as he took the daughter of Jairus by the hand and said, “Little girl, arise!” (OSB Luke 8:54), so Peter took the lame man by the right hand and lifted him up (OSB vs. 7).

Faith in His Name Connects Us with the Power of Christ

But how did the Lord’s power work through Him?  What was the connection between the Risen Christ and Peter?  That connection was faith.  Thus, Peter emphasized that the man was healed “by faith in His name” (OSB vs. 7).  To turn on an electric light, you have to plug it in.  Faith is the plug that connects us to the life of the Risen Christ.  Trust in the Lord is the means of our union with Him and all that He is and wills to do through us.

Accordingly, by the Spirit, the Lord has given this same faith of Peter to His Church.  The Lord said that if believers had faith as tiny as a mustard seed, they could move mountains (Matthew 17:20) or throw mulberry trees into the sea (Luke 17:6).  The point of the metaphors is not the stupendous feats but the divine power that faith engages for carrying out the will of God.

For Reflection

The Church and its members are called to continue to perform the acts of St. Peter and the apostles in our time.  For instance, we pray for the sick in our personal prayers and in healing services.  But we also pray in the litanies that the Lord “Remember… the sick and suffering, captives, and their salvation (St-Tikhon’s 1984, 71, etc.).  These petitions are not kind but empty gestures of concern.  The Lord said, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them (NKJV Matthew 11:24).  Thus, our prayers are effective for healing just as Peter’s words were– if we pray for them in faith.

We should not be timid, hesitant, or afraid of following the example of Peter and of serving as instruments of God’s love and mercy.  After all, we have been given the authority and power to act in His Holy Name (Matthew 28:18-20).

Works Cited

St-Tikhon’s. 1984. Service Books of the Orthodox Church. Third ed. South Canaan, PA: St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press.

 

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