“As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them, being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
“On the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem; and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent. When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, ‘By what power, or in what name, have you done this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead – by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved’” (Acts 4:1-12).
“Jesus” is the most divisive name in any language. Some people invoke Jesus’ name as an expletive to convey the deepest hatred and hostility they can conjure. Others call on Jesus to express the most sublime praise and purest delight imaginable. No other name induces such contrary reactions in the human psyche. Even people who are generally apathetic toward spiritual matters become intensely energetic toward the name of Jesus.
Ever notice that no one ever uses the name of any other religious figure as a cussword? You’ll never hear anyone swear by calling on Buddha, Muhammed, or Vishnu. What is it about the name of Jesus that stirs up such visceral responses in us?
The issue is power. Peter said, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” People call on the name of Jesus, whether in praise or as an expletive, to invoke the power of His name. Some do so with a motive of tender love for the grace He so generously bestows, while others do so in bitter rage for the holiness of His justice and wrath toward the sins they love.
The name of Jesus brings God into our midst. It makes Him undeniably real. Those who love His appearing marvel at His presence and are delightedly compelled to praise Him all they can. Those who hate Him recoil at His appearance and want only to distance themselves from Him as the legion of demons who begged to be released into the pigs (Mark 5:1-13).
The name of Jesus divides the world into those who love the Lord and those who hate Him. There is no neutral ground. There are no by-standers or undecided voters. Everyone either stands with Christ or against Him. We are either drawn to Him or repulsed by Him. Isaiah wrote, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isa. 53:6). Jesus Himself said, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (Jn. 3:19).
The religious leaders protested, not because Peter and John had healed a man, but because they’d preached in Jesus’ name. It was the name of Jesus they hated so much and that disturbed them greatly. It was also the name of Jesus that brought 5,000 men to faith in Christ as Lord that day. Again, Jesus’ name divided humanity that day.
One day, all of humanity, from the least to the greatest, will stand before God and be divided for all eternity by the name of Jesus. Those whose are made alive together with Christ will enter into the joy of their Lord, being saved by grace through faith in the name of Jesus. The rest will be turned into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
May the Lord quicken in you love for the name of Jesus.