What's in a Name?
(Posted January17, 2020)
One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother.
He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah"
(which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said,
"You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter).
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It was William Shakespeare who penned “What's in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.
However, in Jesus’ time and culture, names were deeply important. It presented the very essence of that individual. When Jesus confronted the bedeviled mad man in the Gerasene cemetery, the first thing he did is to pin down the name of the demon within him. The demon itself had already shown his fear by addressing Jesus by his own name. “What would you have do with me, O Jesus, Son of the Most High? Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And the Demon cried out, “Legion, for we are many!” When one was asked by a person in charge in those days, one had to answer honestly with a proper name. You see, to know someone’s name was to have some kind of power over them.
In today’s Gospel we see Jesus trolling for future apostles and meeting for the first time Simon, brother of Andrew. In their very first meeting, Jesus renames Simon Cephas -- in their native tongue of Aramaic, it means “Rock.” (So you see, there was “The Rock” long before Hollywood!) And why did he rename Simon? Because from the beginning Jesus knew that this hard-working, hard-headed fisherman would be the one, the foundation for his church. Today in Latin we know him as Petrus, Peter --- Simon Peter who would be the first head of the band of Jesus followers. This Sunday as I finish this year’s doctoral studies, Bible Magician Gary Kriss will be leading us down the fascinating path of what names mean, and how what we call people defines our relationship with bigger things. - Pastor Pat Kriss