"He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, 'You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas' (which means Peter)." (John 1:42 ESV)
Giving a name is a powerful moment for parents. It’s a culminating experience in the long road of childbirth. The baby is a new creation and yet also shares the traits and genes of both parents whose image they'll carry for the rest of their lives. The child’s unique given name identifies this newness while their family name reminds them they are part of something that stretches into the past—that they belong to a particular history, values, and hopes.
In light of this, it's not hard to imagine Simon feeling confused upon meeting Jesus. What right did Jesus have to give him a new name? What authority did He have to alter what Simon’s parents had done? And yet, we don’t see Simon fighting it. He seems to receive the new name as though it fits better—as though it was somehow more suitable and right than his original name.
We now know what Peter did not at the moment. Jesus had all authority to give Peter a new name for He had known him before his parents ever did. Jesus helped knit Peter in his mother’s womb and ordained the days of Peter’s existence. Peter was more God’s than he was anyone else’s.
Like Peter, our family origin story begins well before our parents existed. Our first parent is God who made us and entrusted us to an earthly family. He knows us better than we, or our parents, ever will. Our true family name is more ancient than creation and will remain with us into eternity.
Considering this, it's paramount that we help our clients see who they truly are. God has made them and they are His. He has crafted them according to His good purposes and set specific works before them to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). They bear a divine family name and, as such, are children of God and granted access to all the riches in Christ (Ephesians 1:7-10). They are new creations and deeply loved by their Heavenly Father. He knows who they are and calls them by name to Himself. For in remembering these unchangeable truths, they will be able to endure life in this ever-changing and challenging world.