2 Kings 15:1-31; Acts 19:13-22; Psalms 147:12-20; Proverbs 30:29-31
NT: “Now some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists also attempted to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I command you by the Jesus that Paul preaches!” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were doing this. The evil spirit answered them, “I know Jesus, and I recognize Paul — but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them, overpowered them all, and prevailed against them, so that they ran out of that house naked and wounded. When this became known to everyone who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, they became afraid, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high esteem.” (Acts 19:13-17 CSB)
While Paul was living in Ephesus of Asia, some traveling Jewish exorcists came into town. They must have taken notice of how powerfully and authoritatively Paul was able to heal and deliver people through the name of Jesus Christ. Not to be outdone and overshadowed by Paul’s effective ministry, they attempted to use Jesus’ name as well. Their attempt at name dropping carried no power nor authority at all, and they were soundly humiliated. While Jesus’ name does carry all authority and power, the only ones who are recognized wielders of His name are those who know Him and have come under His Lordship. Jesus’ name is not a formula for victory or success, and the seven sons of Sceva found that out convincingly. The reason why Paul could effectively invoke the name of Jesus was because he was a submitted servant of Jesus through faith, and a commissioned ambassador of the Kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Many people in the U.S. and other culturally Christian nations of the world are much like the seven sons of Sceva. They think that they can use the name of Jesus as a talisman of sorts. They think that because they were raised culturally as “Christian” and “believe” in Jesus that they have access to all the rights, privileges, benefits, and promises of the Kingdom – but they don’t. Paul’s entire life was Christ. Christ was his Lord and Master. His years of growing up Jewish didn’t give him power and authority. His worshipfully surrendered and dependent relationship with Jesus Christ by faith filled his life with power and authority. Christ came into the word to bring life, light, peace, joy, and victorious power and authority – but the only way to fully receive those gifts is by fully believing on Him and completely coming under His Lordship.
Psalms: “Exalt the Lord, Jerusalem; praise your God, Zion! For he strengthens the bars of your city gates and blesses your children within you. He endows your territory with prosperity; he satisfies you with the finest wheat.” (Psalms 147:12-14 CSB)
God does indeed strengthen and bless His people. God does indeed provide for our needs and satisfy our deepest desires. He is faithful to His promises, but we must understand and remember that all the promises of God… all the blessings of God… all the protection, provision, and satisfaction of God are yes and amen in Christ. Therefore, the psalmist calls us to exalt the Lord and praise our God. In order to exalt the Lord, we must first abase all other names (including our own) and submit to His Lordship alone. In order to praise our God, we must first bring ourselves and our situations low in order to fully ascribe to Him the greatness and glory of His name. As the Christmas carol “O Holy Night” says, “Christ is the Lord. O praise His name forever! His power and glory evermore proclaim.” To fully experience all that Christmas means and to fully receive the gift that Christmas brings, exalt the Lord, praise His name, and make Him Lord of your life.