Dispatch One Hundred Forty

Posted: April 22, 2015 in Thirty-Fourth Bundle
Tags: , , ,

ACTS 4:5-12

The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11 This Jesus is

‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
    it has become the cornerstone.’

12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

In order not to lose sight of the larger context of this passage, we are still dealing with the aftershocks of the miracle that Peter performed on behalf of a crippled beggar by the temple gate (Acts 3). After Peter had delivered his sermon to the thousands assembled in Solomon’s Portico, the religious leaders of the Jews had him taken, along with John, into custody for interrogation.

The next day, when they stood before the high-priestly family to profess the authority in whose name they were creating such a ruckus, Peter seized still another opportunity to speak in the name of Jesus. And it is here, in the apostle’s claim that “there is no other name given among mortals by which we must be saved,” that the Christian doctrine of exclusive salvation found its surest anchor in scripture.

Without denying the obvious meaning of the claim, we need to carefully consider the further question of what Peter and the emerging Church believed was included inside the boundaries of this reality named Jesus. Does the name refer only to the flesh-and-blood personality who walked the hills of Galilee, or is there more to it than that? In other words, was Jesus a discrete and isolated act of God at a particular point in history, or can we see him also as a manifestation in time of an eternal and timeless reality? Is it possible that “Jesus” is the name by which the early Christians came to understand the outreaching and saving grace of God – present and at work throughout the world?

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