Read John 1:35-51
The first time Simon met Jesus, he got a new name. The Rock. Jesus met him and saw the man not just for who he was, but for who He would be.
“You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (v. 42).
Simon was from Bethsaida, a fishing town. He had a dad named John (some versions call him Jonah) and a brother named Andrew, who apparently thought the world of him. He’s the one who introduced Peter to Jesus.
That introduction led to the story of a man whose story is unequaled by any other in Scripture. The story of a man who lived by the sea. He probably smelled like fish most days. The story of Peter is more about the One who gave him a new name than it is about Peter. It’s the story of Jesus’ transforming grace.
I wonder what Simon thought of his new name. The one Jesus gave him. Did he try it on for size the first time he heard it? My name is Cephas. Rock. Did he like rocks? I mean, surely he had encountered them at various times. Perhaps he’d mistakenly caught stones, thinking they were fish. Maybe his boat had nearly crashed into one at some point in his career. What images emerged when Jesus called him by that name? Did he realize the he would eventually grow into it? Did the hearing of it alone give him a confidence such as he had never known? Or did he think Jesus was mistaken? Surely not I. A rock?
The Bible doesn’t tell us what he thought that day. But it has a lot to say about the truth of his new name. The truth of what Jesus called him. I believe it took Peter some time to see himself as such. No doubt it took time for him to catch Jesus’ vision for him. But by the time he died, Simon Peter’s life was a clear testament to the transforming power of Jesus Christ. His life bore clear witness to the fact of Jesus’ transforming work in one man’s life. And it all started with a new name for the man who followed Jesus.