Meghan Magoo was my dad’s chosen nickname for me. It eventually morphed into Magoochi. Strange. I know. That’s how nicknames are. Whatever the particular name is, it’s meaning is something special to the giver, and the receiver. The message that’s being sent is you are special. Upon hearing my nickname from my dad, I knew it was a sign of affection.
We’ve got nicknames for our children, spouses, and pets. We love them, so the standard name just won’t do. An adorable name must do the job of saying, “I love you.” Bubbies, Bubba, Boo Boo, Dilly, Dilly Jo, Joshy, Joshaboo are just a few of the names my husband and I have given our sons over the years. These cutesy names say, “you are adored.”
Jesus was known to give out a few nicknames as well. He changed Simon’s name to Peter, which in the Greek means rock or boulder. Peter is The Rock. That is a super cool name. You can’t get a much better nickname than that. To be clear, Jesus Christ is the Rock, and Peter was used by God as a small pebble atop that foundation.
16 “Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:16-18, ESV)
Jesus saw more than just Simon the fishermen. He called him Peter because He was calling him to something different. Peter was the first leader of the early church, and he didn’t get there overnight. It took a lot of mistakes and maturing in his faith along the way for old Pete. He thought he knew better than Jesus and rebuked Him (Mark 8:32). He loses faith (Matthew 14:30). And, Peter denied even knowing Jesus (Luke 22:61-62). But Jesus calls him to greatness before Peter was even ready. Jesus knew Peter’s potential and He sees our potential too. He’s calling each of us to something greater than ourselves.
The Son’s of Thunder were brothers James and John.
“and to James the son of Zebedee,
and to his brother John,
He gave the name “Boanerges”
(that is, “Sons of Thunder”);” (Mark 3:17 HCSB)
Once again, Jesus is calling them into what they will become. These two had a lot to learn as well, before they were up for the challenge of leadership. James and John’s mother asks Jesus to have her sons sit on his right and left in His kingdom (Matthew 20:20-21). The brothers also asked Jesus if they should call fire down from heaven to destroy a Samaritan village (Luke 9:54). Not exactly signs of maturity.
Peter, James, and John were the only disciples to experience the transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1-9). With all of their mistakes and shortcomings Jesus still calls them to greatness for His kingdom. It gives me hope. I can be used by God in spite of myself and so can you.
There are other instances of name changes in the Bible.
Abram becomes Abraham. (Genesis 17:5)
Jacob becomes Israel. (Genesis 32:28)
Saul becomes Paul. (Acts 13:9)
These name changes signify a change in their calling, and identity. Abram, Jacob, and Saul each were given a new mission. They had encounters with God that changed them.
Have you had an encounter with God that changed you? Are there old habits or old ways of thinking that need to go? Do you have a nickname that’s negative? Maybe a parent gave you an awful nickname, or a sibling, or teacher, or fill in the blank. It was long ago, but that name comes in your head, and you believe it.
If you know Jesus as Lord and Savior, then you are a son or a daughter.
“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be sons and daughters to Me,
says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18, HCSB)
Sons and daughters of God are chosen, forgiven, set apart, free, accepted, loved, protected, blessed, and highly favored. Sons and daughters have a new identity in Christ, no matter what nickname has been given to us negatively. God loves you and is fiercely committed to you. He’s calling you and I to something greater than ourselves. Let’s answer that call as His children.
“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:16a, NLT)
Love you all,
Photo credit: BRRT from Pixabay