Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Given a New Name and a New Identity

John 1:41-42 – He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas” (which is translated, A Stone).

Can you imagine? You walk up to Jesus and his first words to you are “You are Simon the Son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas.”

My reaction would have been simply “huh?” with a confused look on my face. You know the kind of look you get where one side of your lip turns up slightly and you cock your head to one side. It’s that look you get when you’re completely dumb founded.

I guess we can’t say for sure how Simon reacted to Jesus’ statement, but surely he was perplexed to say the least. Maybe he had that same look on his face I would have, wondering what exactly this new name meant for him. What ever his reaction, we know that this was an unusual statement to hear from someone he had never met before.

So what do Simon and his brother Andrew do after this encounter with Jesus? We can’t be sure of the timing or what they did immediately after, but they did eventually end up back home. The next time we see Jesus approach these two young men they are back home fishing.

Matthew 4:18-19- And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Simon Peter’s response was to drop his net and follow Jesus. Later on as he is walking with Jesus he is asked a question “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus responds to Simon Peter’s answer with another declaration of who Simon Peter will be.

Matthew 16:15-18 – He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

In the period of time that Simon Peter walked on this earth, a name meant more than it does today. Back then you were given a name to describe who you were. Jesus called Simon the “rock”, meaning the foundation of the early church. He would be the solid one that built the church.

When Jesus called Simon Peter by a new name He wasn’t just wishing or predicting what would come. He was instead giving him a new life, a new purpose and a new destiny. Jesus was not a prophet telling a future prophecy. He was and still is the son of God, fully God himself. He needed nothing or no one else to help make this change happen in Peter. It was spoken. It was done. Destiny changed.

Our destiny also changes when we become a disciple of Christ. We are no longer the old person we were before.

2 Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Ephesians 4: 22-24 - That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Colossians 3:3 - For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:9-10 - Do not lie to one another, since you have put of the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.

When we are in Christ we are born again, changed into a new creation. Old things have passed away, meaning they are to be gone from our everyday life. All things are made new. We are given a new name; He calls us His child, His beloved. All that we were, is forgiven and washed away, a new day has begun and the slate has been wiped clean. Because of this change we are not to hang onto the old self that we were before. That old person is corrupt and is driven by the lusts of this world. Instead we are to be renewed in the Spirit and put on the new destiny that has been placed before us. We are a new man/woman.

The Greek term for “new man” used in Colossians 3:9-10 depicts an individual, male or female, who possesses a “new nature” or a “new humanity”. It characterizes a metamorphosis in our conduct. That means a complete transformation takes place from a life of sin to one of righteousness. That metamorphosis is the same as being reborn or born again. I liken it to the complete metamorphosis of a caterpillar as it changes into a butterfly.

Jesus places His Spirit within us so we can walk the new life of the righteous man. Not that we will always do everything right or we won’t still struggle with sin. We will always struggle as long as we are here on this earth. It’s our character that God is concerned with. Our life should no longer be shaped or look like it used to look. We should be seeking to be more like Jesus everyday.

The process of changing is just that, a process. We will not wake up tomorrow and think every thought perfectly righteous. It takes a daily renewing. We are to hide the word of God in our heart, to fill ourselves with it so it can do the renewing process of changing who we are.

What we can be sure of that comes instantaneously is an assurance that our final destiny is secured. If we are truly one with Jesus Christ our final destiny is with Him in heaven.

We can also look forward to a different life. Since our life is no longer lived for ourselves, it is pretty safe to say that we won't end up where we thought we would before we met Jesus Christ. If you are seeking God on where to go in our life and what to do with your time and talent, chances are He will guide you where you never thought you would go. This seems to scare some people. I’ve heard some say; I’m not giving everything over to Jesus because if I do He might send me over to the rain forest where there is no running water.

Maybe that’s true. He may send you out to be a missionary. But I promise you, if He does call you to the mission field, you will want to go. Before He calls you to go He will place such a burden in your heart that you will go gladly. He will make you fall in love with the place He is sending you. In the end it will be you saying, send me Lord. Send me, I’ll go. Just like Simon Peter, we will be given a destiny for our life. Some of us will stay here. Others will go. What ever your calling is, you can be sure that Jesus will equip you with what you need to succeed.


Anonymous said...

Great post. When Jesus steps in we certainly are forever changed.
Each of those name changes represents a change in the man and a fulfillment of purpose. I may not have a new name but the bible says; If any man be in Christ he is a new creature! Thank God.

Please come visit my blog! God bless.

Rockin' Robin said...

I love the part where you remind us that it (the renewal) will not happen overnight. It is true that the word must penetrate and do the changing. Thank God for his grace and mercy. Thank God for the Holy Spirit. Great post.

Connie Arnold said...

Your excellent post fits in well with the sermon I heard this morning about answering God's call to you. Thank you for sharing!

His Love Extended--Julie Gorman said...

Wow! What a great post! I love it! God's power lives in us, changes us, and empowers us! Aesome!

Andrea said...

Sitka has an award for you at All Gods Creatures.
Blessings, andrea

Tonya said...

I loved this and am very excited to put this on my blog roll. I also have to agree with you about what you wrote about giving your blog to God. I,too, have a blog, wanting to share with Christians, and feel diappointed when there aren't comments. I then realize WHY I am doing it...and for Whom. I want to reach people...and chat IF they want to ..but so many people need to be reached. And I see yours could do that too. Keep up the good work, Sister In Christ.

the blog I am talking about (since I have 3) is "Christian, Can We Talk?"

Thank you for your faithfulness in our Lord.