Have you ever had a nickname? When I was a little boy they used to call me “The Fuzz,” or just “Fuzz” for short. I wish that I could tell you that it was the mean neighborhood bullies that gave me this nickname, but it wasn’t. It was the neighborhood moms.
When I was a little boy I was short, round and red headed. It wasn’t all bad being that way though, because all of the neighborhood moms thought that I was the cutest little thing for some odd reason. The moms liked to hug me and give me cookies. One day my dad brought me to get a haircut instead of my mom for some reason that I can’t remember. I know that I’m stating the obvious here, but dads are way different than moms. When moms take their kids to get a haircut they are concerned about how their kids will look. When dads take their kids to get their haircut they want to get their money’s worth. So my dad, being a good steward of our money, asked the barber to give me a summer butch haircut. I was a little boy and I didn’t mind my dad’s request at all! I probably thought that getting a butch haircut was the coolest thing since frogs in the washing machine (that is a story for another day).
Well, lets just say that my hair was very short when I left the barbershop that day. All of the moms thought that I was even cuter. I remember the neighborhood mothers rubbing my head, laughing, and giving me extra cookies. Eventually one of the moms decided that my new name was going to be “The Fuzz.” Of course, the nickname stuck instantly, and before long, the entire neighborhood was calling me by that name. I guess my parents thought that this nickname was cute too. I remember having a black school gym bag with white stick-on letters that said “THE FUZZ” on both sides. The attention that this nickname gave me was mostly positive, so I didn’t mind, and eventually we moved and the nickname was lost…until now.
Did you know that many of the people in the Bible had nicknames too? In the third chapter of Mark we read, “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”
In these verses we see that even Jesus was a fan of nicknames. Jesus called Simon “Peter” and He called James and John “sons of thunder.” Peter means “rock” in Greek, and Matthew 16:18 tells us that Jesus saw Peter as someone He could trust to lead his church. As I discussed previously in The Youth Leader, Peter was the only adult besides Jesus in the group of disciples. Before the resurrected Christ left for Heaven, Jesus told Peter three times to feed His sheep (John 21:15-17).
As far as the “sons of thunder” nickname, Luke 9:51-55 gives us a clue as to why Jesus may have called James and John by this name.
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them? But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village.
I have written about James and John previously in Momma’s Boys. James and John were bold. They wanted to be great and second in command to Jesus. In the verses above, we see how James and John would have used their “authority.” They wanted to torch a Samaritan village to the ground because they didn’t welcome Jesus. Thankfully Jesus “rebuked them” for this bold idea. The Greek word for rebuke is epitimao, which means to rebuke or to warn. I have a feeling that James and John got rebuked a lot by Jesus, but I also think that He loved their passion.
In the Gospel of John we find that John was as as humble as he was bold. John referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23) Before we are too hard on John, we should note that the Bible says that God disciplines those he loves (Hebrews 12:6). Maybe that is why John says that Jesus loved him so much, he got plenty of discipline from Jesus! Any good parent with multiple children will tell you that some kids get more “love” because they need it more.
So what about you? If Jesus gave you a nickname what would it be? Would it be “rock” or “son of thunder,” or would it be something less flattering? Revelation 2:17 tells us that Jesus will give a white rock with a new name on it to those who are victorious. The Bible says that only Jesus and you will know the name that He writes on your white stone. What will Jesus write on your stone? I don’t know about you, but I want to give Jesus something to smile about when He thinks about a name for me. I say this not because I’m trying to earn His love, we can’t earn God’s love, because God is love (1 John 4:8). I want to make God smile because I love Him more than life itself and I know that Jesus has a sense of humor. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I get to Heaven and find out that my white rock is inscribed with the words “The Fuzz.”