For anyone who has ever read the Bible or at least anything about Jesus, you have most likely heard about Simon/Simon Peter/Peter. Yes, he was called by three different names…with a purpose. But Let’s look at the beginning.
Peter was the first disciple chosen by Jesus. Before that, he was just a fisherman. He had followed John the Baptist because he wanted to be aware of when the Messiah came. Peter was a fisherman, and married, living in Capernaum at Galilee. In all four locations in the Bible listing the disciples, Peter is listed first. [Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13]. He was listed first mainly because he was the main disciple.
Peter was originally named Simon, which was a very common name back in that day. He was eager, aggressive, outspoken, brash, vacillating, undependable, impulsive, and arrogant. He would also jump into anything first and also would be the first bail out when things got tough. When he met Jesus, he immediately knew he wanted to follow this “Rabbi”. With Peter, Jesus was creative with mentoring him. He changed his name. He went from being Simon to Peter. Sometimes he was called both. There is great significance of this. Peter meant “the Rock”. Jesus would call Peter by that name to stress the importance of being firm, constant, and fully obedient to Jesus. It was about Peter becoming selfless, rather than selfish. It was a reminder of who Peter should be, not who he was. Anytime Jesus called Peter “Simon”, I would be that he cringed…he knew he was in trouble. He knew he was acting wrong and Jesus was correcting him.
“Peter is mentioned in the Gospels more than any other name, except Jesus. No one speaks as often as Peter, and no one is spoken to by the Lord as often as Peter. No disciple is so frequently rebuked by the Lord as Peter; and no disciple ever rebukes the Lord except Peter. No one else confessed Christ more boldly or acknowledged His lordship more explicitly; yet no other disciple ever verbally denied Christ as forcefully or as publicly as Peter did. No one is praised and blessed by Christ the way Peter was; yet Peter was also the only one Christ ever addressed to as Satan. The Lord had harsher things to say to Peter than anyone else…all this contributed to making him the leader Christ wanted him to be.” [Twelve Ordinary Men]
At the time near Jesus’ death, Peter denied his Rabbi, his Messiah. He chose to deny knowing him for fear of death. Jesus even warned him he would do so. Can you imagine that feeling, when the very person who has changed your life, you deny because of fear? Peter was acting as Simon, a weak, impulsive, selfish man, not The Rock- not who Jesus was calling him to be. Later on Peter became one of the greatest influences of Christianity. Jesus had died, rose again, and left the earth in the hands of his disciples. It was their turn to spread the Truth. Peter spoke to thousands of people and they accepted Christ. Peter was emboldened by the power of Jesus and the discipleship he received from him. He died because he refused to deny Christ again. In fact, he was crucified as well. It was a normal practice in the Roman Empire to crucify people on the streets as a reminder to not anger Rome. Peter did just that. He was condemned to death, but in his death he made one request- to be crucified upside down because he did not deserve the same exact death as Christ. In his death, he was Peter, not Simon. In his life, though he acted as both, he was an ordinary man that Jesus chose to become someone extraordinary and to change the course of history forever. He was involved, bold, decisive, humble, submissive to Christ, courageous…He was normal fisherman that became great.
What about you? You can become someone extraordinary if you just follow Jesus Christ…