“As he passed alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus told them, ‘and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him” (Mark 1:16–18). When we are first introduced to him, he is called Simon. Simon was the Hellenized form of the Hebrew name Simeon. The famous fisherman-turned-fisher-of-men was named after the second of Jacob’s twelve sons.
A couple of chapters later, Jesus called and commissioned twelve Apostles. “Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons. He appointed the Twelve: To Simon, he gave the name Peter...” (Mark 3:13–16).
Later, when Jesus had taken His disciples north to Mount Hermon and “Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he asked them, ‘who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’ ” (Matthew 16:13–16).
“Who is Jesus?” may be the most important question ever asked! Is He a fictitious mythological character? Is He just a good teacher? Is He a religious figure with little significance and no relevance to our daily lives? Or as Simon Peter testified, is He the exact fulfillment of the Old Testament’s Messianic prophecies and truly the Son of the Living God?
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:17–18).
Jesus gave Simon a new name... Peter... the Rock. Jesus spoke to the Rock saying, “God has revealed to you this Bedrock of Truth!” Jesus continued, “it is upon this foundational truth, the revelation that God has intervened in the affairs of mankind and that the Messiah has come to redeem His creation, that I will establish My church! And Peter, what I establish will never be over-powered by the enemy.” Jesus didn’t say that He would establish his church on Peter. Rather, the church is established upon the confession that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Sinless Son sent to redeem mankind.
Near the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He warned Peter that he would faulter. In fact, Jesus foretold that Peter would deny the Master three times. Interestingly, Jesus said to him, “Simon, Simon, look out! Satan ...is after you. He will tempt you and test you!... But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31-32).
Simon failed to live up to his new name. He wasn’t a rock! He was more like a marshmallow! He denied even knowing Jesus! But here we read some of the most encouraging words in Scripture. Jesus said, “But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail!” Even when we fail, our Father loves us, and seeks to restore us!
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.