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  • Austyn Kunz

The Name above all Names

Introduction

Undoubtedly, most who read this have seen The Lion King (1994 version). Personally, I rate it one of the best Disney classics. A beloved scene occurs after Mufasa—the intimidating but good lion ruler—saves Simba and Nala from the hyenas Scar sent to kill them. The scene captures a dialogue between the hyenas and Scar after their skirmish with Mufasa. It goes like this:


Banzai: “Man, I hate lions!”
Shenzi: “So pushy!”
Banzai: “and hairy!”
Shenzi: “and stinky!
Banzai & Shenzi: “and man, are they UUUGGGLLLYYY! Hahahahahahah!”
Scar: “Oh, surely we lions are not all that bad!”
Banzai: “Oh Scar, it’s just you. Uhhaha.”
Shenzi: “Yeah, we were afraid it was somebody important.”
Banzai: Yeah, you know, like Mufasa.
Shenzi: Yeah.
Scar: I see.
Banzai: Now that’s power!
Shenzi: Tell me about it. I just hear that name and I shudder!
Banzai: Mufasa.
Shenzi: Oooh. Do it again!
Banzai: Mufasa
Shenzi: Ooooooh!
Banzai: Mufasa, Mufasa, Mufasa![1]

This hilarious dialogue highlights a familiar concept. There is significance and power in a name. Names not only have meaning, but they represent a person and all their character, attributes, and identities. Just as the name Mufasa carried significance to the Hyenas, Jesus is also much more than a name. Our January memory verse from Acts 4:12 emphasizes that! Here are some of my reflections this month.


Context

Acts 4:12 takes place in a specific context—the early days of the church. Not many days after Peter delivered his sermon on Pentecost and many believed in Jesus, Peter and John went up to pray (like they often did). As they pass, they see a lame man asking for alms. He asks Peter and John too. Peter responds by saying, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”[2]

Miraculously, the man is healed, and all the witnesses are amazed. Afterward, they enter the temple and crowd around Peter and John. Peter addresses the people, emphasizing that it was not his power, but the name of Jesus, “by faith in his name,”[3] that has made him walk. At the end of his sermon, he calls the people to repent and trust Jesus. Suddenly, the Sadducees and temple leaders catch wind of what is going on, and they arrest Peter and John.


Eventually, their captors interrogated them, asking “by what power or by what name did you do this?”[4] Peter responds triumphantly, “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.”[5] He continues his response with the words of our memory verse, “and there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”[6]

Something astounding about this verse in context is how it highlights the relationship between Jesus’ name and his person. His name is not significant apart from himself. It has significance because of who he is! Jesus of Nazareth, the man whom the leaders had crucified, is the risen Messiah! The miracle verifies the truthfulness of their message and testifies to the power and person of Jesus.


Jesus Alone

This verse is very singularly focused. It destroys the “all roads lead to heaven” argument. Before a crowd of leaders who hated Jesus, Peter declares that he is the ONLY source of salvation. Perhaps Peter recalled the words of his beloved teacher when he said this, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). To reject Jesus is to deny yourself your only hope to avoid God’s judgment. He was the pure and spotless lamb, the holy and righteous one. He didn’t deserve punishment and death, but he willingly endured crucifixion and torture so that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21, Joel 2:32). He died as a substitute for all those who would call on him. “There is salvation in no one else” (Acts 4:12). Peter doubly emphasizes that in the following ways.


No name under heaven – One could search the earth, travel the galaxies, scour the universe at hyper-speeds, but they would find no other name, no other person, who could rescue them from the judgment that they rightfully deserve. Jesus is it!

No name given among men – Ask every person you know. Visit every nation, every people group, every tribe, and every clan on every continent. You will find no other person who can provide true deliverance from sin. There isn’t one!


Conclusion

In the end, we are hopeless apart from trusting in Jesus. His name represents the totality of his person. If you look for another savior, your journey will end hopelessly. His name has power because he is powerful. His name brings salvation because he is the savior. Do you recognize him as your rescuer? Do you preach like Peter about the power of his name and call others to respond in faith to him? If you do, show it by acknowledging him before others (Matt 10:32). Help them exchange their helplessness for hope by trusting the only name that saves!




[1] Watch the clip at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhZ0TKdgJGg


[2] Acts 3:6, emphasis mine. [3] Acts 3:16 [4] Acts 4:7, emphasis mine. [5] Acts 4:10, emphasis mine. [6] Acts 4:12, emphasis mine.

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