Chapter one opens and the first name we read is the name of Jesus. Turn to the last verse of the last chapter and who do we find? Jesus. By that name He is named 71 times in the book of Acts. That's 3 times as many times as in the book of Romans and almost as many times as the gospel of Mark. Considering Jesus was gone to heaven for all but part of one chapter that's pretty impressive.
Why is He talked about so much and why by that name when He has other names?
In chapter 4:12 Peter declares there is no other name given among men by which we might be saved. That word saved is an interesting word. The angel Gabriel told Mary that her baby boy conceived in her virginity by the Spirit of God was to be named Emmanuel and Jesus. Emmanuel because He was 'God with us' and Jesus because He would 'save His people from their sins'.
That word "save" is "sozo". It can mean to save as in rescue or save as in heal. When a doctor cures a person of a deadly disease we say he saved their life. Jesus came to save our lives by healing us from the disease of sin.
The Jews like every other man made system of religion had come to the place where they believed they could save themselves from sin. They had many laws, customs, and rituals for doing so. They washed their hands a certain way. They kept an endless round of feasts and ceremonies. They sacrificed animals over and over. They had over 600 rules just for keeping the Sabbath "correctly"! Their obsession for saving themselves had some really negative side effects. They had come to see themselves as a superior people. They believed themselves to be God's special people. This led to hatred for all others whom they termed Gentiles. The great hope of the nation morphed into world domination which would be achieved when their heroic Messiah arrived.
He did arrive. Exactly on time. Exactly in the right place. Exactly in the family line of king David. Everything was as the prophets had written it would be. There was only one problem. He was a baby born to parents so poor that a cattle trough was His crib. So unceremonious was His arrival and the scandalous circumstances of it that He was virtually ignored despite the witness of angels and the arrival of wealthy men from the east to see Him. Men who were also descendants of Abraham, just not from the "superior" line of Isaac.
Jesus. The One who will save/heal His people from their sins.
The Jews were looking for financial and political liberation, not heart changes. They had long given up on heart changes. They had changed the law so that heart changes weren't necessary.
In His first public message and the only one we have in full manuscript Jesus touched on this very point. In fact it was the core of what He had to say. He pointed out with unmistakable clarity that hatred hidden in the heart was the same as murder. He pointed out that undressing women with your eyes and imagining yourself with them was equal to adultery. His point was clear. The condition of your heart is what matters. "Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7
The heart. The Bible uses the heart to identify the inner condition of a person. Jesus said out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. In other words if the condition of the heart is not addressed sooner or later the darkness that is in there will come out.
The Bible does not stop there. The Bible says we are powerless to change our hearts. In fact it says our condition is set in stone. It says we can no more change it than can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard change his spots.
Sounds depressing. Sounds hopeless. Unless of course there was a solution.
What did Peter say again in Acts 4:12? There is no other name by which we might be healed. Heart healed. Not what the Jews were looking for but exactly what they needed.
Jesus. That name got James killed. It landed Peter in jail more than once. Because of His name Stephen was stoned. Because of His name Saul ran all over the map arresting and killing those who were seeking His healing. Finally Saul encountered Jesus himself and the healing he experienced changed everything including his name. As Paul he began traveling the map again only this time proclaiming His Name.
Suddenly the hunter became the hunted.
Jesus. He is the heart changer. Violent John became the beloved. Head hunter Saul became willing to die just to make Him known.
My wife works in health care. One day a man came to the hospital. He had been ignoring the sickness inside him for so long that it had literally eaten a hole out through the side of his face. The smell was revolting. He had ignored his condition for months because he didn't want to face it. Ignoring it solved nothing. It only grew worse. Whatever is rotten on the inside will come out. There is only one Healer. That is why Jesus is the name He is most known by. We are sick and we need healing. Sadly we are so sick we actually resist the very One who alone can heal us.
That's how Acts ends. A man who has experienced His healing himself is a 'prisoner' to making Him known. He lives and breathes for no other purpose. At one point he too was blind and deaf to the truth about this healer named Jesus. Now he finds the same deaf/blind condition in those he tries to tell the good news to.
Isaiah wrote and Acts rewrites it:
28:27 For the heart of this people has become dull,
And with their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes;
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.”’
Healed hearts. That's the offer. His name is Jesus - Healer. The choice is ours but there is no Other who can cure the root of our bitterness, hatred, lust, greed, pride, prejudice etc...
Jesus - No Other Name...