Friday, March 11, 2011

For some strange reason, it had to be ...

The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter).
-    John 1:35-42

For some reason, I’ve never liked my name. I have nothing against my parents for choosing it, and I know a lot of people love it: “Joshua.” I don’t know. Too many syllables, I guess, which is why I insist on the short version. But “Josh” also means “to banter in a teasing way.” And that doesn’t describe my personality well at all: I’m generally very earnest, and I’m often the last person in the room to realize that someone is employing sarcasm.

But in the original Hebrew, my name actually means “God is salvation.” That’s better. And it turns out that the name Jesus is merely the Greek equivalent of Joshua, so it seems I have something big in common with someone very important. Whoa, hang on ... that’s way too much pressure.

Maybe I want Jesus to give me a new name. That’s a very important deal in the Bible: when you are given a new name, you are also given a mission. Abram and Sarai became Abraham and Sarah, and their mission was to be the parents of all monotheists. Later, Saul became Paul, a turncoat who began spreading the message of Jesus instead of working against it. And in between, Simon became Cephas … or, translated, Peter. That means Rock. Jesus’ nickname for Simon was “Rocky,” because Jesus could see how solid he was. Despite all his obvious flaws, Rocky was to found the Church.

I wonder what new name Jesus would give me? What name would Jesus give you? And what would your mission be?

Jesus’ first mission was to go into the wilderness. In Lent, we go with him. We all spend some time in the wilderness. And that wilderness could be anywhere … even "Tennessee." Here’s the ’90s hip hop group Arrested Development.

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