Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Perhaps The Ugly Duckling Could Have Been Called The Nice Personality Duckling

If you’ve never heard the story of Hosea before, you’re missing out. Hosea was an OT prophet who was told to marry a prostitute. (I bet nobody thought I’d start out sex and dating month that way!) God told Hosea to marry Gomer, a prostitute. They had some children together. A daughter they named Lo-Ruhamah, which means ‘not loved’. I don’t know what your name means, but I imagine you’d get the message if your name meant ‘unloved’. Then they had a son and named him Lo-Ammi, which means ‘not my people’. It’s kind of scandalous when you consider a prostitute having a kid and naming it ‘not mine’. (It would be like your parents giving you a name that meant ‘ugly one’. Thanks Mom and Dad!)

All of this was at the command of God. He told Hosea to marry Gomer and He told Hosea what to name these children. Why? Because God is trying to communicate to the nation of Israel the curse they were under. They had turned their back on God, so He was letting them know the consequences.

Our names have significance. Let me explain with another story. One day Jesus was teaching and people were crowding Him. (I understand that feeling. People just can’t get enough of me.) So Jesus spots a fisherman nearby in his boat and asks to get in and Jesus teaches from the boat. After Jesus is done, He tells Simon, the owner of the boat, to go out and fish. Simon tells Jesus they fished all night and didn’t catch anything. I think you may know where this story is going. Simon lets down the nets and they catch so many fish that the nets almost break and the boats almost sink.

It is here Simon makes a self-identifying statement. “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). That’s how Simon saw himself; a sinful man. Jesus calls Simon to be an apostle anyway.

Then in Matthew 16, we get an entirely different picture.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Notice that Simon names Jesus here. He identifies Him as the Messiah, as the Son of God. Then Jesus names Simon.

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Simon already had one name. But Jesus gives him another, one that truly identifies him. I think we each have two names; the one our parents gave us, and the one that God Himself gives us. One name we answer to, the other identifies who we are, who God made us to be.

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