(Today’s post is from a new contributor to The Advent Guys. I asked him to write a post that would give us all some hope and he delivered in spades. If you look at your life and feel like you are losing hope, today’s post should be a good reminder that Jesus wants something for your life. And that should give you a great deal of hope.)
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). John 1:40-42
My name is Brian Lee. My first name has no family significance as far as I know. I think my parents just liked the sound of it. Whatever their reasons, that’s what they named me. Like most kids there were times when I wish I had a different name. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I thought that if I had a different name it would make me into a more important and powerful person. Sort of like Bond, James Bond. That’s way cooler than Lee, Brian Lee, don’t you think?
I wonder if Simon ever thought of that. If you would have asked him his name, he would have told you, “I’m Simon son of John.” Unlike my name, Simon’s name had significance to it. It came from the Hebrew word for “hear.” But this wasn’t just any hearing. It meant to hear with understanding. Not bad. Right? Well, yes, except for the fact that Simon was known more for his impulsive reactions than he was for his insightful hearing.
But that was about to change when he meant Jesus. Jesus knew Simon’s name. But He also knew who Simon could become. So he changed his name to Cephas or Peter which means the Rock. This was a highly important statement. In the first century, names defined who you were. So Simon wasn’t just a label to distinguish him from his brother, Andrew. No Simon was SIMON. He had Simonness if you will. So a change of name was a symbolic change of his essence – who he was on the inside.
Of course, living into that new name didn’t happen over night. In the gospels he is often shown to act more Simon-like than Rock-like. For instance there’s the time when he rebuked Jesus for talking about His upcoming death or his denial that he even knew who Jesus was. But bit by bit, he stayed with it until he became Peter, the Rock. And with that new name, he led the early church in the critical days of its infancy with a rock-solid commitment.
Each of you reading this post has a name. Maybe you like your name. Maybe you don’t. But what really matters is what name Jesus is wanting you to become. Yes, it’s true that He takes us just as we are. But He never intends to leave us that way. He wants to transform us into a masterpiece of His grace. Remember, it’s a process. You don’t live into your new name overnight. But by consistently nurturing your soul, you will become who you were meant to be complete with a new name: beloved, child of God.