SERMON TITLE: “By the Name of Jesus”
SERMON TEXT: Acts 4:1-12
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: April 29, 2018, at First UMC
I’m glad we wear name tags in this church. I’ve been in churches where the members don’t wear name tags, and I notice that the people don’t mingle as easily. They only talk with people they know well because they’re afraid that they might call someone by the wrong name. They don’t want to offend, and they don’t want to feel embarrassed. So it’s easier for them just to avoid anyone whose name doesn’t roll off the tip of the tongue. And pretty soon, the whole church seems to be divided up into small little cliques. Here at First UMC, we are a much friendlier group, in large part, I think, because, by wearing name tags, we’re not afraid of saying the wrong name or coming up blank.
Names are important. One author has put it this way:
Suppose [you’re] inside a crowded place, say a stadium or a concert, with thousands of people talking, laughing, and screaming at the same time. In similar situations, [we’re] trained to filter that external noise, so that we can focus on what our friends are saying nearby. Our brain is extremely powerful, and it does that [filtering] job quite effectively.
There is one word, however, that would [pass “through your filters” and] catch your attention even if it was uttered by someone far away. [It’s] your name.1
Dale Carnegie, the guy who wrote books and gave speeches about How to Win Friends and Influence People, said that “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”2 Carnegie taught that anyone who wanted to gain power and authority should learn and use people’s names.
Names have always been important—sometimes our names, sometimes someone else’s name. We all know of famous people, who by their name were able to gain attention for themselves or a cause.
In the Bible story from Acts 4, we see that the first-century Jewish leaders demanded that Peter and John tell them by what power or name they were healing and preaching. The Jewish authorities didn’t believe that Peter and John had that ability all by themselves. Indeed they didn’t, agreed the apostles. What they accomplished was done, in fact, by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Today, what good we experience and share with others is also accomplished in and through Jesus’ name. So let’s look more closely at this Bible story and see what is possible by the name of Jesus.