Dark Devotional: You Will Be Called

Dark Devotional: You Will Be Called January 15, 2021

 

[Andrew] first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.

–John 1:41-42

You are mending your nets when your younger brother Andrew comes running up to you. “John pointed us to the Christ! Come and see!”

You lay your nets aside and follow—you have been looking for the Messiah your whole life. Generations of your people before you have been looking for the Messiah. You have spent your life listening to and studying Scripture and pondering it while you are out on the water—in fact, your name, Simon, means “the listener” or “one who listens.” Is your life’s purpose about to be fulfilled?

You follow Andrew down one dusty road after another as he breathlessly tells you that John, the great prophet in the wilderness, pointed out the Lamb of God as he passed by. You have to keep telling him to slow down—slow his speech, slow his gait, it’s hard to take it all in. You round a corner by a miller to see a group of men standing outside a home talking. You recognize a few of them, but there is one man at the center who seems new. His face is animated but gentle, as he speaks quietly with those gathered around him. As you draw near he stops mid-sentence and turns his gaze upon you.

You open your mouth to speak, but no words come out. He smiles and says, “You are Simon the son of John.” It is a statement, not a question. “You will be called Cephas.”

Before you can ask what this means—Rock? Why Rock?—he turns and enters the home. “Peter,” Andrew says. “Peter!” he repeats, and you realize he is talking to you. Is this your name now? “Come on!” He takes your arm and leads you into the house.

Later, walking home with Andrew, you are lost in thought. The feelings the Messiah stirred within you are hard to pin down. You wish you were on the water, the waves gently rocking beneath you, so you could sort out your thoughts. Instead the two of you arrive home.

“Simon!” Perpetua greets you, throwing her arms around your neck and planting a kiss on your cheek. The name already feels wrong, like a shadow from your childhood. The men have been calling you Peter all evening, without question. Well, most of them. The one in the corner with the money bag kept calling you SI-mon, pointedly.  “Pet,” you say, holding her tightly. She has a smear of flour on her lovely cheek, and she smells of bread and cardamom.  “Come sit with me. I have much to tell you.”

You expected Perpetua to be reticent, to push back against your instant acceptance of this man you just met. Instead she holds your cheek in her hand, looks you deep in the eyes. “Oh, Peter,” she breathes. “Could it be? Could it finally be him?”

Your mother-in-law Sarah has been listening quietly from the corner of the room. Now she rises awkwardly and pours a bowl of stew from the pot over the fireplace. In the dim light you watch the bend of her spine, her gnarled hands shaking slightly as she ladles the thick brew into a bowl. She shuffles over behind you, reaches around and sets the bowl in front of you, bending to kiss the top of your head as she does. “Peter,” she says simply, and chuckles softly to herself as she turns to go to bed.

You are up early the next morning, when it is still dark. You notice the fire has already been stoked; Perpetua is serving Andrew breakfast. When she sees you her eyes light up. “Peter!” she says. “Come, sit, eat.”

Andrew is looking at you expectantly, waiting to eat. You sit and say the blessing, praising YHWH for your food. As you eat, you can’t help but worry about the boat, the nets you didn’t finish mending. Jesus said you were to leave today for Galilee, said something about a wedding. When you have finished strapping your sandals, Andrew waiting by the door, Pet brings you a cloth filled with bread for the road. It is still warm; she must have been up so early. You kiss her and turn to go before she can grow tearful, but Sarah catches your eye, reaches out to you. She presses something small and rough into your hand and closes your fingers around it.

“Lead the way,” says Andrew, as you turn to go. You look down into your palm; there is a small piece of fishing net wrapped around a stone.

“Peter,” you hear Sarah say to herself again, and she kindly chuckles. You do not know when you will see them again.

 

 

 

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