Pastor Josh Combs
“Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas’ (which means Peter).” John 1:42
Two thousand years before Dwayne Johnson changed his name and identity to The Rock or before Sylvester Stallone became Rocky, someone beat them to the punch (pun intended). The Gospel of John records what appears to be the first words Jesus ever spoke to the man we know as Simon Peter. Simon’s brother had met Jesus and been brought to the divine discovery that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. Andrew immediately sought out his brother and exclaimed in verse 41, “We have found the Messiah.” But Andrew was not satisfied to only announce this discovery to his brother; he wanted his brother to experience the life-changing power of Jesus for himself. So Andrew took Simon to meet Jesus. As they approached the Messiah, the Scripture says, “Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas’ (which means Peter)” (John 1:42).
It’s unlikely that either Simon or Andrew realized the significance of what was occurring. Andrew had just introduced one of the most pivotal characters in all of Christian history to the Christ. Simon had just experienced the prophetic power of Jesus over his life. Simon, most likely a modern spelling of the Old Testament character Simeon, means “hearing.” Cephas, or Peter, as we most often refer to him, means “rock.” Jesus had looked at this career fisherman and dubbed him “Rock.”
But Peter’s life had been spent on the waves of the incredibly unpredictable Sea of Galilee. Almost poetically, Simon’s life was equally unsteady. Even after following the Lord, we find Simon Peter as a virtual roller-coaster of emotional and spiritual highs and lows. Matthew records Peter in one moment courageously confessing, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (16:16). Yet, in the very next moments, Peter takes Jesus aside, scolding the Lord for talking about the sufferings He would experience. In another occurrence in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus comes to the disciples’ aid by walking across the water. Peter, in an incredible act of courage, requests to join the Lord on the open sea. Yet moments after joining Jesus in His walk across the water, he is overwhelmed with fear and begins to sink. Even up to the very night of Jesus’ arrest, Peter confidently states, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away…Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” (Matthew 26:33-35). Hours later, Peter would, in fact, deny the Lord three times. The unsteady, unpredictable waves of Galilee certainly seemed to resemble the personality of Simon Peter.
But the Lord Jesus saw in this son of John a canvas upon which God could create a masterpiece. Following the resurrection, Simon was no longer “a wave of the sea…driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). He was Rock. Acts records the extraordinary boldness of Peter. He faced prison, persecution, and physical punishment from the religious leaders. In the middle of those trials, he remained unmoved. He was Rock. The resurrection power of Jesus Christ had given him an unmovable anchor and in doing so, had transformed this unsteady, up-and-down fisherman into a formidable rock in the foundation of Christ’s church. This is the power of Jesus. This is the power of the Gospel. God transforms the unsteady into pillars of stability.
What made Peter unstable was his mindset. When Jesus rebuked him in Matthew chapter 16, Jesus said, “You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (verse 23).
The Scripture is clear: “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8 KJV). Like Peter, when we set our minds on heavenly, eternal things, the power of God transforms our lives. We cease to be unstable, restless, and uncertain people, and become anchored in the steadfastness of Jesus Christ.
Today’s Bible Reading: 2 Peter 2:3-9; 1 Corinthians 15:58;
Colossians 1:21-23; 1 Timothy 6:11; Hebrews 6:13-20;
James 1:2-4, 12; 5:11