Acts 19:15ďOne day the evil spirit answered them, ĎJesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?íĒ


Because the early apostles made such a big deal about the power of the name of Jesus, some people apparently began to think of Jesusí name as some sort of magical incantation.It seems like some of those people here in Acts 19 were honestly trying to do goodÖthey were trying to drive out evil spiritsÖbut it didnít turn out so well.The evil spirits recognize the name of Jesus, but they donít recognize any authority in the people using Jesusí name.Not only do the evil spirits not leave, but they turn and attack the would-be exorcists, giving them ďsuch a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.ĒIn the terms of the Ten Commandments, these men took Godís name in vain, and they got hurt.


Apparently it is not just the name of Jesus that is powerful.It is the name of Jesus used by someone in a relationship with Jesus; someone with whom Jesus has agreed to share authority and power.We see in the Gospels, especially John 17, that this is not just one or two folks, but that what belongs to Jesus is extended to all who are willing to call themselves disciples.That is why Christians are known as the Body of Christ and why Jesus said that the disciples would do all the things he had done.In fact, Jesus sent them out during his lifetime to perform healings and exorcisms and other miracles. And they didónot because they had magic powers or knew deep secrets, but because of their relationship with Jesus.


The sons of Sceva in Acts 19 missed this.They saw only with their natural eyes, noticing that when Peter and Paul and others said the name of Jesus, incredible things happened.They did not see what was going on spiritually.They did not see the hearts of those men who were sold out to their Lord.They did not see the knees bent in prayer day after day.They did not see the disciplines by which the apostles kept their relationship with Jesus alive and vibrant.They didnít see that it was really God doing the work through human vessels, who had been intentional about emptying themselves for that purpose.They meant well, but they missed the boat.


This little story in Acts is a reminder that Christian faith is about relationship and not magic formulas.Prayers reach Godís ears not when we use the right words, but when we mean them.Good deeds get Godís attention when they are done for the sake of Godís glory and not our own.The hymns and liturgy of a Sunday morning worship service open the door for the Holy Spirit not when they are technically excellent, but when they come from hearts truly seeking Godís presence.Itís not magic.Itís not even miracle.Itís the perfectly normal result of close relationship.


I want to know you better, Jesus.Help me to use you less and to love you more.Amen.




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