Name changes in the Scriptures are not real common, especially when that name change is given by God. You better believe that a great significance is attached. We see one of those name changes in today’s Gospel reading from John 1.
Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. As Jesus walks by, John says, “Behold the Lamb of God.” It is then that Andrew begins to follow the Rabbi. After learning where Jesus was staying, he hurries off to get his brother, Simon. He tells Simon, “We have found the Messiah.” When Simon approaches Jesus, Jesus says, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” – which is translated Peter. Peter is the anglicized version of the Greek, Petra. In English, Cephas would be translated as Rock.
The significance here is that Peter, Rock, would become that rock on which Jesus built His Church. (See Matthew 16:18-19) Peter would play a very special role in the plan of salvation. Just as Abram and Sarai (Abraham and Sarah) and Jacob (Israel) had their names changed, so, too, did Simon. And just as those Old Testament characters were instrumental in God’s plan of salvation, so is Peter. What’s in a name? A lot, it would seem.
Father, we thank you for the gift and example of Peter, the Rock. May we always imitate and reflect his faith in our lives. Amen.