40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42 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). 

Peter didn’t know it at the time, but “staying” with Jesus was going to change him.

Jesus signalled the transformation through which Peter would pass by giving him a new name. Simon would become Cephas “which is translated Peter.” Peter’s new name means “the rock”.

As we read on in the story, we will discover that Peter does not appear much like a rock. He is more like an empty boat bobbing up and down on the surface of a choppy sea. He is blown here and there by the winds of circumstance. He is led by his fears and seeks to control the circumstances of his life in an attempt to avoid the wrenching pain he sees ahead.

But Jesus saw something in Simon that Simon had not yet seen in himself. He saw that the process of walking with Jesus through death to resurrection was going to open Simon to a deep steady inner reality. Simon was going to find Peter within. He would eventually connect with his true nature as the “rock” after which he would be named.

Peter is not “the rock”. But “rock” describes an experience Peter would come to find within himself. “Rock” describes the steadiness that does not depend on whatever may or may not be taking place on the surface of life. It is that place where we know we can stand secure in the face of whatever life may bring, not because everything always goes as we might wish, but because we trust the deep inner resource of the Spirit living in our lives.

No matter how unstable and restless our lives may be at times, we are all Peter. We all have that “rock” place within. But, in order to rest on the “rock” we must glance away from our fixation with the choppy waters that seem so often overwhelming. There is a steady centre at the heart of all life that, when we go inward and deep, we will find faithfully waiting in the midst of the turmoil.