Have you considered what kind of nickname the Lord would give to you? When He first met Peter, that impulsive fisherman, Jesus immediately called him Cephas. In our vernacular, it would be “Rocky,” a stone that the Lord would smooth and polish into a gem.
The only other time Jesus nicknamed anyone that I’m aware of is the one He gave to the brothers, John and James, also fishermen. In fact, they were partners of Peter in the fishing business. The Lord “gave them the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder.” I don’t think they just had loud voices. I think they were angry men with short fuses.
Perhaps two other encounters give us a better glimpse into these men. Towards the end of His life, Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem. He traveled through the region of Samaria, which most Jews tended to avoid because they didn’t like the people who lived there. The Samaritans did not give Jesus a warm welcome, so James and John asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” (Luke 9:54). Sweet guys, huh? Another time, John had returned after a tour of ministering. He said to the Lord, “Master, we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” (Luke 9:49). Sounds like he was a bit cliquish.
One other event shows the desire of John to have the spotlight. He and his brother asked the Lord, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” (Mark 10:37). Not too humble, that’s for sure. With these character flaws, what’s interesting to me is in his Gospel of John, he never wrote his name. He only referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Even when you read his three short letters at the end of the New Testament, he puts a great deal of emphasis on loving the Lord and loving one another.
It’s interesting that when Jesus was on the cross, He asked John to take care of His mother. I believe this angry and proud man was transformed by being around Jesus, the One who is perfect Love. John did not only see Jesus love other people, but he experienced His love in spite of his shortcomings.
Do you see some of the same characteristics of John in your life? John gives all of us hope. If God transformed him by love, God can transform our character, as well. I take great comfort in this, knowing there are still lots of areas in my life that need to be changed.
But I still wonder what my nickname would be.