Scripture: John 1:35-42
Key verses: (35-42) 35The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42He 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).
Reflection: When we set up our registrations here at the church, we have the option to add a field called “Goes By” in the name section. In Children’s Ministry we often add this field. Parents can enter a child’s full name, and then the name he or she goes by—their nickname. This helps us print name tags the children can find themselves and be happy to wear. In my own family, only one of us goes by our given name. The others all use a nickname or — even worse, according to our son — a nickname of a middle name.
But we all have other names too — names we don’t put on forms — names that get used only by certain family or friends, or at certain times. All of these names tell something about us. They sometimes tell us our place in the family, or what we were called as a very young child or a middle school kid. Or they are a grandparent name, or what someone called us because they couldn’t pronounce our given name. Sometimes they illustrate a characteristic we have, or once had. The names we go by in public, and in private, help us know who we are.
In this small passage in John’s gospel, Jesus gets called four different names. Each of them tell us something about him, and about who he is. He is just being introduced in this gospel, both to the reader, and to his followers, and John wants us to know right up front that Jesus is something special. He has his given name, “Jesus.” He is also called “Lamb of God.” He is addressed as “Rabbi”, which means Teacher. Then one of his new followers describes him as the “Messiah” (and we learn that means Anointed.)
Not only do we learn about Jesus by his names, but he takes the first opportunity to give a new name to Simon, and calls him “Cephas”, or Peter. Those who follow Jesus are told something about ourselves by the names we carry. Child of God. Disciple. Sister and Brother. Beloved. When you think about being a follower of Jesus, what name do you carry with you?
Prayer: Lord, you know my name. You know all of my names. You know the ones that feel right, and the ones I’ve outgrown. You know every version of me. And you have also named me your beloved child. Help me live into the name, and wear it gratefully. In the strong name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].