(J. R. Miller, “The Friendships of Jesus” 1897)
“Jesus looked at him and said—You are Simon, son of John.
You will be called Cephas (which means ‘Rock’).” John 1:42
“You are Simon.” That was his name then.
“You will be called Cephas.” That was what he would become.
This did not mean that Simon’s character was changed instantly into the quality which the new name indicated. It meant that this would behis character by and by—when the work of grace in him was finished. The new name was a prophecy of what he was to become—the man that Jesus would make of him. Now he was only Simon—rash, impulsive, self-confident, vain—and therefore weak and unstable.
The process was not easy!
Simon had many hard lessons to learn!
Self-confidence had to be changed into humility.
Impetuosity had to be disciplined into quiet self-control.
Presumption had to be awed and softened into reverence.
Heedlessness had to grow into thoughtfulness.
Rashness had to be subdued into prudence.
Weakness had to be tempered into calm strength.
Thus lesson after lesson did Simon have to learn, each one leading to a deeper humility.
It took a great deal of severe discipline to make him into the strong, firm man of rock, that Jesus set out to produce in him. The price which he had to pay to attain this nobleness of character and this vastness of holy influence—was not too great.
But how about ourselves? It may be quite as hard for some of us to be made into the image of beauty and strength, which the Master has set for us. It may require that we shall pass through experiences of loss, trial, temptation and sorrow.
Life’s great lessons are very long, and cannot be learned in a day; nor can they be learned easily. But at whatever cost, they are worth while. It is worth while for the gold to pass through the fire—to be made pure and clean. It is worth while for the gem to endure the hard processes necessary to prepare it for shining in its dazzling splendor. It is worth while for a Christian to submit to whatever severe discipline may be required—to bring out in him the likeness of the Master, and to fit him for noble living and serving.