Nevertheless, names are important to us. Expectant parents pour over books of names in search of just the right one for the soon to arrive child. Maybe you’ve looked up your own name in these books to see what it means (by the way, David means “Beloved”).
People sometimes change their names, e.g. when they get married or divorced. Willis Knight, who is presently imprisoned for murder, recently applied to change his name to Rasool Kadhafi, to reflect his conversion to Islam. Of course, it’s also a way to disassociate himself from his criminal past. There have been several criminals of late who wanted to change their names. There is even a new state law which requires that victims be notified when inmates seek a name change.
Changes of name are not uncommon in the Bible either. Jacob (“Trickster”) becomes Israel (“He who strives with God”). Saul, the persecutor of Christians, becomes known as Paul, the Christian missionary.
Jesus renames Simon, Peter (which means “rock”), because “on this rock I will build my church.” He obviously saw something in Peter which no one else (including Peter) had seen up until that point.
Jesus promises in Revelation, “To everyone who conquers...I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
Jesus holds out to all of us the promise of a new name. For no matter how “good” our name is, all our names have been somewhat sullied by our pasts. Jesus offers us a new name, a new beginning, a name which calls forth the yet unrealized potential within us. What new name has Jesus picked out for you, by which and to which he is calling you?
©2002 C. David Hess