May 9 2013
When Jesus first met Peter he said “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Peter” (John 1:42). Why does Jesus rename a full grown man? Was this a nickname? No. In ancient times someone in a position of authority would name those under them to empower them (Gen 41:45). This is why parents put so much emphasis on the names they gave to their children. It is also why God told Abram (meaning exalted father) that he would now be called Abraham (father of many). He was empowering Abram to be a father of many nations. It is also why he changed Jacob (he grasps the heel or ‘deceives’) to Israel (he struggles with God). After Jacob wrestled with God he had become a new man.
Jesus was empowering Simon to become a new man. He was to become Peter which means ‘rock.’ But as we look at scripture we can see that this was going to be a process. Simon was anything but a rock, he was impulsive and unstable; the kind of guy that spoke and acted without thinking; regretting it later. More