I want to introduce you to Simon, actually his full name is Simon Bar-Jonah, meaning, Simon, son of Jonah, but you may know him as Peter. Sometimes we see him listed in the scripture as Simon, other times he’s listed as Peter, and even sometimes we see him listed as Simon Peter. But the most important thing is to know that Peter’s name means everything.
Something interesting: Whenever you see Jesus refer to Peter as Simon, it is often a signal that Peter has done something that needs correction. It’s like when you’re mom uses your middle name.
Something else interesting: “Peter” was sort of a nickname. It’s literally translated “Rock.” Petros is the Greek word for “a piece of rock or stone.” The Aramaic equivalent was Cephas.
Peter tended to make promises he couldn’t follow through with. He was the type of person that would plunge head first into something but bail out before finishing. He was the usually the first one in, and too often, the first one out. But Jesus wasn’t worried about who Peter was in his past, he gave him this important nick name because he wanted Peter to always be reminded of who he should be, and most importantly the way Jesus saw him.
Jesus took his disciples 30 miles out of their way in order to illustrate a lesson for them. He took them to a place called Caesarea Philippi, which during this time was the epicenter of evil in all of Judea and Herod’s Cities.
This area was filled with worship to some of the Greek gods. There was a huge hole that during the time of Christ was the location of a huge natural spring. The water that came up from this area was so large that educators believed it had no bottom. It literally was the place for them considered to be the entrance to the underworld or the Gates of Hades as the Greeks called it.
Matthew 16:13-15 (NLT) 13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
It’s an interesting question to ask while He’s standing in the heart of worship to foreign god’s, don’t you think? While the other disciples were thinking and fearful of answering the question wrong, who speaks out? Peter of course.
Matthew 16:16 (NLT) 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Peter was able to see that what the world was saying was okay or normal, was neither okay nor normal. And Peter wasn’t afraid to call it what it was. This passionate revelation from Peter was soon to become the heartbeat of the early church and early Christians who were going out into a world that literally recognized that there was at least a dozen god’s in the world.
Matthew 16:17-18 (NLT) 17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church…
Wait, What? He’s going to do what? He’s going to build His church on top of this rock? Really? Because this rock represents everything disgusting, broken, and wrong with the world we live in.
Think about what Jesus was saying to them, He’s saying, I want you to take the message and the love of God, and bring it to this crooked and depraved generation. He was telling them, I will build my kingdom here! He was telling them to build His kingdom there!
Ultimately he was saying, upon you Peter I will build by church. (v. 19) …and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.