And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church… (Mt. 16:17-18)
Jesus gave Simon a new name—Peter, a word that means “rock.” Jesus gave Peter his new name in order to remind him of his new role and calling. In the days following Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter did indeed become a rock of courage, stability, and strength for the early church.
It was ironic for Jesus to change Simon’s name to Peter because until then, Simon/Peter was more like quicksand than a rock. Jesus had the ability to see who Simon was while also seeing who Peter could grow into.
When we confess Jesus as our Messiah and Lord, He gives us a new name. What I mean by this isn’t that He will change, for instance, my name from James to George, but that He has a role and calling for me—just as He does for you.
What is the new name/role that Jesus has for you? Is He renaming you “Champion” because He wants you to prevail for the downtrodden and needy? Is Jesus renaming you “Warrior” because He wants you to be a soldier for fairness and justice? Is He renaming you “Ambassador” because He wants you to represent God wherever you go? Or could Jesus be renaming you “Servant” or “Healer” or “Trainer” or “Missionary” or “Encourager?”
Just as Jesus could see who Peter was and who he could become, so He sees the reality of our life and the potential of our life.
Simon didn’t become Peter by his own efforts. Simon could only become Peter, the Rock, because Jesus gave him the grace to live into his calling.
What’s the new name—the role, the purpose, the calling—that Jesus has for us? If we don’t know, I encourage us to ask Jesus to reveal that to us. He has told us that those who ask will receive. We’ll not only receive the role Jesus has for us but also the grace to live into it.
- Is there a gap between the reality of your life and the potential of your life? If so, what new name do you need from Jesus?
- On his own, Peter couldn’t have become the Rock that the early church needed. On your own, you can’t achieve what the world needs from you. How might you need the grace of Jesus to help you live into all you could be for Him and for others?
- Even though Peter often didn’t act like a rock, even though he often failed, and even though he denied knowing Jesus, Jesus never gave up on him. If you always remembered the same—that Jesus will never give up on you—how would your life change?