And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. Acts 19:11-20 ESV
This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:11-12 ESV
William was four years old, and he had gone to see a magic show. He loved it, and he wanted to be able to do magic tricks himself. William thought that the secret was in the magic words the magician had used. He took a one-dollar bill from his piggy bank and folded it up just as he had seen the magician do, and waved his hand and said, “Abracadabra!” But when he unfolded the money, it was still a one-dollar bill! It hadn’t magically changed into a one hundred-dollar bill. And when William tried to pull a rabbit out of his dad’s empty hat, saying, “Alakazaam!” the way the magician had didn’t make a rabbit appear in the hat. It stayed empty. His mother had to explain to him that the magician had been playing tricks on the audience, and that there was no power in the magic words.
Paul was doing some incredible things in the city of Ephesus through the name of Jesus. People were taking handkerchiefs or aprons that he had touched and bringing them to sick people, and the sick people were made well and evil spirits left them. Some people thought that the name of Jesus was a magic word, and seven men who were sons of a man named Sceva decided to try to do the same magic tricks they thought Paul was doing. They tried to get rid of an evil spirit that was hurting a man, and so they commanded it to come out of the man in Jesus’ name. But these men learned that the name of Jesus isn’t a magic word. The evil spirit said he knew Jesus, and knew about Paul, but, “who are you?” it asked them. Then the man with the evil spirit jumped on all seven men and beat them up badly. Other people realized that Paul hadn’t been doing magic tricks, but instead that he knew the almighty Jesus. They believed in Jesus, left their magic behind, and burned all their magic books in one big bonfire.
We know the power of Jesus’ name, and it’s not because of any magic tricks. Sometimes he answers our prayers to do extraordinary things, but we don’t use Jesus as a magician who makes all of our wishes come true. Jesus has the power to save us from death and the devil and all the forces of evil. He defeated them by dying on the cross and rising again from the dead. Jesus’ power is to bring us into his kingdom and protect us from all the evil forces that had been hurting us. We know and share the power of Jesus to forgive us and save us and be with us always.
Dear Jesus, thank you for saving us from death and the devil, and for hearing our prayers and helping us. Amen.