He sees in us what nobody else sees and nobody else can see because he looks beyond who we are to what we will be. He sees who he will make us to be as we spend time with him, as we walk with him, as we follow in his footsteps.
It’s a detail that is easy to overlook, a detail whose importance may be lost in our many readings and re-readings of the story. But it’s a detail that is full of significance and flush with encouragement if only we will notice it and if only we will meditate upon it.
In the first chapter of John’s gospel, he tells of two men, two brothers, who became followers of Jesus. Andrew was the first to encounter him, to hear his words, and to believe that he was the One who had long been promised. In his excitement he tracked down his brother and told him, “We’ve found the Messiah!” Andrew led Simon to Jesus so he, too, could meet this man and hear his words. And it was at this point that an unexpected event transpired: “Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas’ (which means Peter).”
Jesus looked at this man and immediately gave him a new name. He was no longer to go by the one his parents had given him, but by the one this Teacher had assigned. He was no longer Simon, but Cephas (in Aramaic) or Peter (in Greek).
The significance of this change can be lost in the modern Western world, for we attach little importance to the meaning of names, but only to whether we like the way they sound or if we have known someone by the same name. And it can be lost in the English language, for neither “Peter” nor “Cephas” mean anything else in our language. But when Jesus looked at Peter and said, “You shall be called Cephas” everyone knew what he was saying: “Your name will be Rock.”