A few weeks ago, I wrote about Pebbles in the context of the naming of Simon Peter and the word of the prophet Amos. Then over the weekend, I hit that very passage in Matthew in my yearly devotional study and came across another encouraging word about Peter the Rock.
He was really Peter the Pebble.
It's too easy to get attached to the strong language of Jesus, to these beautiful images He paints in the mind with His words. We look at a scene like this one, and we see Him christening a questioning, somewhat reserved Simon into Peter. We see Him calling a meager man a "rock," and what a glorious image that is! Jesus does that. He uses strong words like "rock."
But if your ancient Greek is any good, you know that "rock" was only half of the sentence. The other half is "pebble."
It's another one of God's classic plays on words, which He is so incredibly fond of throughout Scripture. In Greek, Peter's name is petros. That is the exact word for "pebble." Jesus is punning around with the disciple when He calls the man a rock, petra. But it's an incredible image of what God does.
He takes this man, this questioning man. This man who often stands in his own way. This man whose faith is wishy-washy at best, between his moments of fighting against the divine plan, denying the Messiah, and obstinately declaring his belief. He takes this regular guy, brother of Andrew, man named Simon and He says, "Your name will no longer be Simon. I am calling you 'pebble.' And on this rock, I will build my church."
I think so often when I've thought of this story, what I've seen is God making a man a big thing. What I've read is God anointing Peter and offering him a way out of the trap of his wavering personality. What I've believed is that somehow, God was endowing Peter.
With the Greek context in mind, it's far more likely (and easier to see) that God was indwelling Peter. He called the man like he was - a pebble - a small piece of faith that's solid amid a lot of silt. He found the one tiny piece of rock in the disciple, and He called it like it was. He said, "In you, I see this solid piece of faith. And it's enough. On this rock - this tiny pebble of Peter - I will build my church."
Which kind of echoes what He was doing in Amos 9:9. If you've got a little bit of the glory of God in you, it's enough for Him to work with.