Jessica Albritton, Family Connections Minister LHBC

Matthew 16:13-20
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 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. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

About a week after I accepted my position at Living Hope one of the pastors on staff (Pastor Greg) came to me and said, “Jessica I need to apologize in advance if I ever called you by the wrong name. For some reason I got it in my head that your name was Rebecca. So if I ever call you Rebecca… I’m sorry.” I laughed, but not for him mixing up my name. You see, all throughout my life I have been randomly, accidentally, called Rebecca. Teachers, friends, coworkers, and strangers, in Georgia, Louisiana, and now Tennessee. Somehow the name Rebecca has followed me. I decided that day to just embrace it in all the silliness that it was. If anything good, or bad, happens, pastor Greg will often exclaim, “Now who did it? Must have been Rebecca!” It’s turned into a running joke in the office as well as in a handful of my friend groups. Many of the people in the loop use Jessica and Rebecca interchangeably, which makes meeting new people quite comical. I can’t even tell you the number of times people have looked at me and asked, “Now what’s your name again?” 

I can only imagine Simon Peter having a similar struggle when Jesus changed his name. Before Simon was called to be a disciple of Jesus he was a fisherman. In fact, all the disciples had occupations before the call was made by Jesus to drop everything and follow Him. It has always baffled me that the 12 chose to give everything up to follow a man they didn’t know, to take off on a journey that was unknown. It’s easy for us today to say we will trust and follow Jesus because we can read of the faithfulness of Him in the pages of scripture, but the disciples didn’t have that luxury, they had to have faith beyond reasoning. Three years later we see Simon the fisherman radically transformed into a sold out zealot and dedicated follower of Christ. The encounter he had with Jesus at the Sea of Galilee in Matthew chapter 4 was only the first step. Just a few chapters later he goes from Simon the fisherman, dropping his nets and going after a stranger, to Peter, the rock upon which Jesus uses to build His church! 

It’s the same for you and I. When we decide to follow Jesus, when we claim for ourselves that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus changes our name. We go from an unrighteous broken sinner to a new creation. He places His righteousness on us. It’s our only defense and something He gives willingly because of His great love. It’s not something we could ever earn or will ever deserve. It’s a free gift from the creator of the universe. The essence of the gospel tells the story of a God who turns fishers into fishers of men, tax collectors into pastors, liars and murderers into men after His own heart, prostitutes into honored matriarchs. He brings ashamed sinners into the family of the messiah. 

How about you? Have you dropped your nets to follow Jesus? If not call on His name today and be saved! Let Jesus change your name! 

Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of a new name. You are in the business of taking our brokenness and making us whole. When we encounter You we are changed. Lord, thank You for giving me a new name! In Jesus name, amen!

1 Corinthians 15:58
58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.