Mark 3:16

So he appointed the Twelve – Peter (which was the name that Jesus gave to Simon),


there are twelve
among them Simon aka Peter
a rock of many names
always standing at the last
the Mary Magdalene
of male disciples
needing special counsel
intuitive impulsive
resistant repentive

in turn we each
have another twelve
we order by our time and
energy with them
in each we see more
than their name can carry
revealing us to us
through their responses
less and more than we thought


The Common English Bible (and the web-based Open English Bible used in this blog) we have used as the translation of Mark is here out of sync with older translations by starting with “Peter” and then noting this as Jesus’ inside-the-family name for Simon. Most begin with the Hebraic tradition of “Simon” and explaining that he has been nicknamed, Peter.

To try to get at this a bit more, reflect on your own name and ways that people know you at home, among friends, at school, at work, and in other public settings.

Which of these various ways of being named do you claim for yourself? What emotional distinction do you make between them?

In Mark, Peter doesn’t fare all that well. One moment, a hero, and the next, an adversary. In the end he is as absent as everyone.

We can celebrate Peter’s growth and commit to continuing our own deepening of what we understand to be true. While there are sparks of greatness in Peter, it is not until after Mark has finished challenging readers that Peter can be seen as a “rock” which is suggested by his new name. Peter does become reliable, a foundation, a person of steadiness with his early leadership, counter-cultural vision, preaching, and prison stories.

Peter will come to exemplify an important kind of rock as he faces new community challenges. Does Jesus reach out to those not like him? Is this what a sense of belovedness within and without is like? The keeping to a deeper value over a shallower one comes to Peter in a vision and its subsequent implementation at the Council of Jerusalem that opens Jesus’ teachings to the Gentiles (Acts 10, 11, 15).

“Rock” is not unchangeable. Dealing with wilderness can come through requiring Order (limiting converts) or expecting Dignity (expanding family). A choice here affects revival in today’s wilderness.

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