“He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas…’” (John 1:42)
The name Cephas means Peter. The name Peter means Rock. Jesus looks at Simon and says he will be a rock. Was Jesus joking? During Jesus’ life, Peter was more like quicksand than a rock. But once Peter met the resurrected Jesus and was filled with the Holy Spirit, he did indeed become a rock of faith, courage, and strength.
Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter. The changing of Peter’s name was a portent of the changing of Peter’s life, personality, and character.
Jesus still changes names—including ours. I’m not speaking about Jesus changing our first or last name. Most of us would just as soon keep those names. But many of us carry around other names or labels that need to be changed.
I once led a class on today’s piece of scripture. I asked people to share a name they needed to let go of that shamed them and shut them down.
One person said, “Lost.” I then asked the folks to give this person a new name, and they said, “Found.”
Someone else said, “Not good enough,” and the room said, “Awesome.” Someone else, “Unlovable,” and the room said, “Totally loved.”
Someone else, “Sinner,” and the room said, “Forgiven.”
When Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus, Jesus saw a quality in him that wasn’t yet present. By renaming him, Jesus was calling forth, in time, a new person.
I encourage us to consider what new name Jesus might have for us. If we’re walking around with names that belittle, shame, stunt or demean us, Jesus has a new name just for us.
Jesus is in the renaming business. Is there some name that has been keeping us down—like “never good enough,” or “loser,” or “unlovable”—that we need to be changed so that we can live into the life that Jesus wants for us?
Peter eventually lived into the new name Jesus gave to him. I pray that we will be encouraged to live into His new names for us.
- Do you have some names or labels that have shamed and belittled you? If so, what are they? Did someone else, or did you, give yourself those names?
- What new name do you need Jesus to give to you? Forgiven? Loved? Courageous? Talented? Awesome? Blessed?
- We tend to live down to or live up to the names or expectations we’ve been given. Do you need to raise the names or expectations you’ve given to anyone else?