What's in a name?
How many times have you been asked in your life “What’s your name?” Certainly, more times than you can count. Have you ever been asked or told that “you should live up to your name”? Usually, that is in the context of what someone in your family has done before you.
When Jesus began his earthly ministry, he put a new twist on “what is your name”? When he first met the man we know as Peter, he called him by name, then gave him a new name. In John 1:42 we read, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
Andrew, Simon’s brother, had brought him to Jesus and told Simon that he thought they had found the Messiah. Andrew and Simon had gone to hear and meet John the Baptist and had been impressed by what they had seen and heard. John the Baptist had pointed the way to Jesus and had indicated that they should check him out, which Andrew did. Now, Andrew, who knew Simon better than anyone, who knew how impetuous he was, how argumentative he could be, how volatile he could become from one moment to the next, hears Jesus tell him that he would become Peter, the rockman. Can’t you just imagine Andrew saying quietly to himself, “not in my lifetime”?
Why would Jesus say something that I am sure both Simon and Andrew thought would never happen? Consider this, when you become a believer in Jesus Christ, the Bible says you become “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Maybe Jesus does not give us a new name, but he makes us a new person, a new creation. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Like Simon Peter, God is waiting to fulfill his purpose in us; the purpose for which we were created.
If you follow the life of Simon Peter as revealed in the New Testament, you soon realize that his journey to becoming the rockman was not always smooth sailing. Think of some of the times that he seemed to mess it up. He more than once stuck his foot in his mouth by saying things before he thought about them. The most memorable of such moments came shortly before the crucifixion of Jesus. He is trying to prepare his disciples for his impending death. They, of course, do not understand, so Jesus says, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter then responds, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered Peter by saying, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!”
Simon really wanted to be Peter, the rockman. Many of us know the story; try as he might, Simon could not stand up to the pressure and during the arrest and trial of Jesus that same night, he did deny Jesus three times. After the third time, he wept bitter tears of regret for having failed Jesus. How he wanted to be that rock, the one Jesus could count on, but he just could not do it. Why could he not live up to his name, the name that Jesus gave him: the Rock? If Simon could not do it, what chance is there that we can do it? How can we truly become the “new creation” that God has promised through Jesus Christ?
When we fast forward a bit and we get to the book of Acts, we see a very different Simon; in fact, he is now called Peter and lives up to the billing. What made the difference? Simply put, he made it to the other side of the resurrection. When Jesus died on the cross and went to the tomb, he took all of our sin. It was sin that kept Simon from becoming Peter, the rockman. It was sin that kept him from becoming that “new creation” where the old is gone and the new has come. When Jesus was resurrected from the dead, he was resurrected from the enemies of sin and death. He sent his believers the person and power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). Simon was forgiven and cleansed of sin (1 John 1:9) and now he could become the “new creation” in Christ Jesus. And he did. Read the book of Acts and the letters of Peter in the New Testament. Peter fulfilled God’s purpose for his life as the Rock.
If you come to Jesus Christ and experience the forgiveness and cleansing of sin, the very same resurrection power of Jesus will make you a new creation; you will become God’s workmanship and fulfill the purpose for which you were created. You may not have a new name, but you are a new creation!