Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).
Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Cephas” (which means “Peter”). John 1:40-42 (NLT)
“What are you going to do with all THAT?” Terry was concerned because what he saw on my work table looked like weeds from the ditch. In all honesty, some of it was. I held up bunches and tried to get him to see what I saw, a beautiful fall table arrangement. He wasn’t convinced—where he saw weeds, I saw an arrangement—it simply needed to be transformed. It took me a few attempts to get it “just right.” It took florist tape, hot glue and wire. I had to drill holes in the base and rearrange the small bundles several times to make the final product balanced and beautiful.
Weeds transformed into beauty—hold that thought.
You may be able to fumble your way through a partial list of Jesus’ twelve disciples. You may be able to rattle off all the names in the order Jesus chose them. I’ll share what’s true for me, and maybe you can relate. When Scripture lists names, I go on autopilot. Most of the names are unpronounceable unless you sound out each syllable. Sometimes in my mind, I read off modern names that begin with the same letter. Essentially, I’m trying to get through the list and to the “important stuff” of Scripture.
I was doing that as I read the verses above. This time a phrase caught my eye.
…Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said,…
I read that over. My first thought was, “YIKES!” I can’t imagine being face-to-face with Jesus as He looks intently at me.
What was the last thing you looked at intently? Why were you looking intently? Perhaps, intently doesn’t mean much to you. How about one of these words: with planned purpose, deliberate, with full attention, with fixed attention, with concentrated focus, determined.
How would you like to be Simon, son of John at the receiving end of that look?
Jesus looked at Simon gave him a new name. On the surface that’s weird. How would you respond if my first words to your were, “Hello, (your name here). From now on, I’m going to call you Stone.”
How can one make sense of this nonsensical interaction? To make sense of it, you must understand Jesus’ vision.
Jesus knew Simon, the son of John, was an impetuous person; quick to jump to conclusions, ready to wager everything without first counting the cost, easily annoyed and angered. Jesus knew that. Those are not the personality traits of someone you’d nickname “The Rock.” Simon was more of a leaf in the wind, an on-again-off-again vacillator who could proclaim divine truth right before spitting out denial.
Does that sound like someone you know? I see that person every day—she looks back at me in the mirror.
What is the first lesson of Simon Peter’s life?
It’s this—Jesus saw the “Simon” and He saw the “Peter.”
Jesus knows your shortcomings. He understands your temper, your lack of self-control, willingness to deny Him to gain a moment of comfort, your lack of faith, your tendency to be glib with spiritual truth—Jesus knows all that, and is willing to look past the “Simon” you are today to the “Peter” you can become with the Holy Spirit’s help.
Did that intent look just become less intimidating?
Jesus’ Plan for You
Jesus isn’t all that interested in your shortcomings, your personality flaws, or your inability. Do you know why? It’s because Jesus knows what He can transform you into, if you are willing to follow Him. Jesus can transform the pile of weeds you are today into a beautifully designed arrangement if you let Him. Jesus can transform the marshmallow “Simon” in all of us into the strong and stable stone of “Peter” if He’s allowed to complete His work.
Over the next few days, we’ll look at the delightful character of Simon Peter. He’s one of my favorites—because I see a lot of him in me. The fact that Jesus would choose someone so beautifully flawed and willful to be His close friend brings me great joy!
Peter was full of faith and full of fear, all at the same time. Scripture records Peter’s failures and successes as an example of God’s love, grace, mercy and power to transform.
Father, thank You for seeing what I can be instead of what I am. Help me to learn from and move beyond my sin, failures and past to become the final product of Your transformational power. Teach me to follow You when I want to quit, when the shame of my failure threatens to overtake me, when I make the same mistake AGAIN. Cause those events to make me cling to You rather than run and hide or give in to shame and guilt. Keep me close. Transform me.