Summary: The power is in Jesus name and the pardon comes through Jesus work!
The Stone the Builders Rejected, Acts 4:5-12
It is related that Michelangelo, the famous Italian sculptor, painter, and poet, once stood before a great block of marble that had been rejected by builders and cast aside. As he stood there with eyes staring straight at the marble, a friend approached and asked what he was looking at. “An angel,” came the reply. He saw what the mallet, the chisel, and patient skill could do with that rejected stone. He set to work and produced one of his masterpieces. Likewise, God the Father has saved us and redeemed us according to the stone which the builders rejected. Christ has become the chief cornerstone, though he was the stone which the builders rejected. What the world often casts aside, God redeems for His glory. What the world rejects as foolishness, God intends to use to show that He will do what He will do, not according to our opinions, judgments, or preconceived notions of how it ought to be done.
If the Pharisees had their way, surely salvation would have come into the world according to their good deeds, good works, and keeping of the commandments of the Law. But praise God almighty! Salvation has come unto us through that which the builders of religious ideas and idolatries of self righteousness rejected; Christ! The King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s!
Ephesians 2:19-22 says, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (NIV)
The cornerstone unites two walls at the corner of a building and holds the building together. Peter said that the Jews rejected Christ, but now Christ had become the cornerstone of the church with the foundation of the Church being the teachings of the Apostles and the Prophets of the Old Testament.
This morning we will discuss the stone which the builders rejected who has become the chief cornerstone, or the capstone of the Church; that is, of God’s covenant people. As we go to our text, we will examine what it reveals with regard to the power of Christ’s name, and the pardon which has come to humanity according to Christ.
Power: In our text a question is raised by the religious authorities bring Peter and John before the current High Priest Caiaphas and his father in law, the former High Priest, after being seized by the teachers of the Law, the Sadducees, to be interrogated about their evangelistic efforts, the healings they were performing, and, perhaps most of all, for their rhetoric with regard to the resurrection of the dead; most notably their speaking of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
In this section of the passage a question is raised, “by what power are you performing these miracles? In whose name do you preach?” This is the same question that is raised to the Church today. In whose name do you perform your ministry? In whose name do you proclaim a message of hope?
If we perform our ministry to the community and to the world in only our own name then it lacks power. We see this played out in the lives of many churches that have rejected the pure message of proclaiming Christ, Him crucified, and Him resurrected, as did John and Peter in this passage. Far too many in our day have replaced the power of the name of Jesus with the vanity of their own name, their own agenda, and their own social goals.
For John and Peter, the name of Jesus alone was that which they proclaimed. It was in Jesus name alone that they performed miracles.
Since my three year old son Sebastian was an infant we have prayed at meal times. If we ever appear as though we are about to eat without praying first, Sebastian will tell, “Uh Oh, daddy, you almost forgot to pray.” Our one year old son, Ephram, is getting in on the pray now too, although when we go to hold hands around the table, Ephram always is a little skeptical because he seems to think that somebody is about to take his food! Of late, Sebastian has enjoyed being the one to say the prayer. While the prayer varies, Sebastian has picked up on the main theme and when he prays he will say, “Lord, thank you for the gift of this day, thank you for your constant provision, bless this food in this Jesus name. Amen.” A few moments later, he will usually add, “Oh, and bless Sebastian too!”