A New Name

Steven Laman

READ : John 1:35-42

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). (v. 42b NIV)

Since I travel in a wheelchair I sometimes get stared at, especially by children. On occasion I hear names like “retard” or “spaz.” These names used to bother me, but as I got older I realized that some kids just do not understand.

Jesus is in the name-changing business. The most famous example is when he changed Simon’s name to Cephas, or Peter, which means “rock.” This impulsive and unstable man was hardly a rock. When Jesus called Peter, he knew how he was going to act. He also knew that after the resurrection Peter would become a pillar of the church. By labeling Simon a rock, Jesus was looking toward what Peter would become.

You don’t have to be in a wheelchair to feel the world’s cruel names. If you have ever been labeled fat or stupid, if you’ve ever had a racial slur flung at you, you know how words hurt. Jesus will never use any of them. He sees us for who we are in him. Some of his names are: beloved, and my precious child. I am so grateful that the Lord uses a completely different vocabulary for us—aren’t you?


Lord, when the world beats us up, help us to remember the names you give us.