Summary: The Bible is filled with accounts regarding how God used people in powerful ways. Both the known and the not-so-much known. Jesus has touched millions of people in a very humble way.
For a few minutes this morning, I would like you to think about your name. Is it a good name? If you could have named yourself, would you have chosen the same name? There is a meaning behind every name, what is the meaning behind yours? My name means, “strong, a powerful ruler.” Wow. Cheryl’s means love, dear one, or caring. So together we are loving, caring powerful rulers. Names are important and have been since time began.
We spoke briefly about this in our Bible Study. Think back to Biblical times. Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes wrestled with God, and God changed his name to Israel. In Genesis, chapter 32, God said to Jacob, “Your name shall longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” And from that point on, Jacob (Israel) was blessed. He said “I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved.” Israel is called Israel today because of Jacob’s faithfulness. And from that point on, God used him in a powerful way in spite of his limp, as we have talked about before. And God uses each of us in spite of our limps.
Think of other names. Joseph, Mary, Rahab, Paul, Peter, Esther, Ruth, John.
We are reading from the Gospel of John, chapter 1 verses 25-32. John opens his Gospel with the words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He, Jesus Christ, was in the beginning with God and all things were made through Him and without Him, nothing was made.” Sounds rather definite doesn’t it? John goes on to talk about the forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist, the future rejection of Christ, the acceptance of Christ and the incarnation of Christ – all in the first chapter. We pick up at the time John the Baptist was being questioned by the Pharisees and Levites about his own identity. John quoted a verse from Isaiah and then, speaking from the Jordan River he said: “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who is coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” This is He of whom I spoke earlier. And John bore witness saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from Heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. This is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit, and I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God. Again, the next day, John stood with two of his own disciples. And looking at Jesus as he walked he said, “Behold the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard him speak and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (translated Teacher) where are you staying? He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying and remained with Him that day – now it was about the tenth hour (according to the Roman method of the day beginning at midnight, it would have been ten in the morning.)
One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah (Jesus Christ), and he brought him to Jesus. When Jesus looked at him He said, you are Simon, the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas which is translated a stone. The term Cephas means a small rock in Aramaic which is translated “Peter” in Greek, or Petros. Jesus’ assignment of the name Cephas, or Peter to Simon occurred at the outset of His ministry. The statement not only is predictive of what Peter would be called but also declarative of how Jesus would transform his character and use him in relationship to the foundation of the church.
We read in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus refers to Peter as the rock and “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” And when Jesus referred to Peter as the rock in Matthew, the Greek was “Petra” which means a foundation builder. So a man originally referred to as a small rock, became known as a man with boulder-like strength and faith to carry out Christ’s commission for the church. How important is a name?
I would like you to think about your name, and how God can use you as He used Peter. When Jesus first called Peter, He left everything He had and followed Him. God has called each of you by name. Do we do the same? Do we trust without doubt? Do we have faith that could move mountains?