Peter and John had been arrested and were being questioned, as indicated Acts 4:5-12. “By what power or by what name did you do this? (v. 7). Peter answered, “Let it be known to all of you ... 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 ... There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (vv.10-12).

The authorities do not question Peter or John about whether or not a healing took place. They question him about the sources of that healing. Miracles still do happen, and our recognition of them is often simply an indication of how close we still are to an ongoing relationship with God. Peter thus uses this miracle not as an end unto itself but as a means of pointing toward a greater truth. The first step therefore, taken by Peter and John to attract attention from society was not taken in order to draw attention to themselves, but rather to the One in whose name these actions were being taken. Let us review the “questions asked” and “answers given.”

Question — Luke points out that the friction between Peter and John, and the religious authorities focuses on the source of power for this healing action and not the action itself. The authorities ask, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” in verse 7. They did not ask how the healing took place; they asked about the need to give credit to Christ for the healing. In effect, they are asking Peter and John about the reality of Jesus as Christ. God is all around us, but like the religious rulers of Peter’s day, we allow distance to come between God’s presence and the ebb and flow of life. We have a tendency to remove God from the process of life around us. The authorities did not recognize God in the many miracles of modern life.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he writes, “What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:19,20). And yet, we continue to allow ourselves the possibility of finding other ways to explain life and the wonders of it. We continue to overlook the very real presence of Christ as a means of entering into a relationship with God our creator and savior.

Answers — Peter is thus steadfast in his efforts to point his accusers back to the reality of Christ. He speaks of how the leaders have drifted from God’s presence and how Jesus was sent to bring them back. Refusing to accept the reality of Jesus as Christ was in effect refusing to accept the very cornerstone of their salvation. Where have we missed God’s presence in the world around us? How are we being called back to an affirmation of Jesus as Christ? Peter says we are in need of being saved, and that it is in the very name of Jesus Christ “by which we must be saved.” Let us renew our own efforts to open our eyes to the loving presence of God in our lives. And let us remain firm in claiming the salvation offered by Peter and John in the name of Jesus Christ.

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J.B. Morris leads the St. Andrews United Methodist Church.