Names are always significant in the Bible. They can tell us a lot about the role the person is asked to play in the unfolding plan of salvation.
Remember the importance of the naming of Jesus and John the Baptist in Luke’s Gospel. One of the pivotal moments in the Old Testament is when Moses asks God His name.
All God would say on the matter is “I am who I am” In the Jewish tradition to know the true name of someone is to have power over them and no one can have power over God.
Yet we see in our Gospel reading that Jesus asks the disciples about His own identity. He asks them who the crowd thinks He is, using the title used in Matthew’s Gospel, the Son of Man.
The replies given are important Biblical characters from the past, those who heralded momentous shifts in the history of salvation.
But then Jesus turns again to His disciples and asks, “Who do you say I am?”
It is Simon who answers, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”
Jesus is recognised and named for who He is; the Living God on earth.
It is a turning point in His mission and a crucial change in our, albeit limited, understanding of the nature of God.
God is no longer keeping Himself apart, He made Himself known personally to us all.
For his faith, Simon is especially blessed by Jesus, he is renamed; Peter.
Peter is to become the Rock, the source of strength and authority for the new community, the Church, the followers of the newly revealed Christ.
Peter, a humble fisherman, who has doubts and fears and issues and hang ups like each and every one of us, is charged by God Himself to take care of those who believe in the one true God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Not only was Simon Peter renamed, he was reborn.
Whatever our role in life, whatever our position in the Church, our starting point is the same as Peter and the disciples. We have to answer the same question He asked of them “Who do you say I am?”
Who do we say Jesus is?
Can we answer, not with just our minds but our hearts too?
We need to be aware of God constantly revealing Himself to us through His Son.
If we have faith to do that then we, in turn, receive our names. We also become pivotal in the Bible story, we become part of the faith narrative, we become reborn.
In a few days we can finally worship together again; Alleluia!
And when we meet, we are likely to have Peter’s doubts and fears, our own issues and hang-ups; but we shall also have his faith.
Names are important, but we have the privilege of meeting in His name; the name above all names.
We’ll met in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.