Summary: 4th of 7 messages on the transformation of Simon into Peter. This message focuses on the blessing and responsibility of confessing Jesus as Lord.

Simon’s New Name

Ricky vs. Richard. My mother wanted Ricky. My dad wanted Richard in case I grew up to be a minister. Now that I’m a preacher I prefer Rick – or maybe “Flash”. Just kidding! That was Charlie Brown’s secret desire – to be called “Flash” by his friends and of course Lucy couldn’t stop laughing to poor Charlie Brown’s everlasting red faced embarrassment.

Names are important. They tell a lot about us – especially nicknames or handles. They speak of who we are, who we hope to be or even that we are an accepted part of the group.

President Bush has a habit of giving nicknames to people he works with…

• Attorney General John Ashcroft- Snake Hips

• Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld- Chickenman

• First Lady Laura Bush- Stretch, or Bushie

• Russian President Vladimir Putin- Ostrich Legs

• Vice President Dick Cheney- Hopalong, or alternatively, Crash-Dive

• There is also an aid Frenchy, there are Knuckles, Bones, The Eskimo, Skeezix, The Undertaker, Stilts, and a cabinet member Spinach Man. And Bush has a friend named Darryl whom he calls The Big Goober.

I’m not sure I’d like the nickname a sitting President might give me but wouldn’t it be nice to have someone who is that important give you a name? Preferably not the big goober!

Simon was given a new name by Jesus. It was a blessing and an encouragement based on what Jesus saw in Simon as a man and a follower. It all started when Jesus asked two important questions.

It’s important to note that at this point in Simon’s discipleship 2.5 years have passed for all the disciples including Judas. 2.5 years of teaching, of miracles and of sharing his life with them. 2.5 years and the confession is right even though the understanding was at best – fuzzy. It would not be until after the crucifixion and resurrection that their understanding would be correct also.

As I’ve studied the transformation of Simon, the ordinary fisherman, into Peter the extraordinary servant it’s been revealing to see the evolution of this massive change. It’s been helpful to me as I’ve related Simon’s journey with my own.

It began with a change from ignorance to amazement as Simon saw Jesus heal the sick, forgive the sinful, and teach the teachers.

When Jesus himself called for action we watch Simon evolve from an amazed spectator into a humble obedient man.

Last week we observed Simon as he moved from a life of simple obedience to “walk on water” faith.

This week we see the light bulb come on when Simon answers two very important questions and receives a new name.

Let’s read about it in Matthew 16:13-20

Simon’s New Name

Matthew 16:13-20

13 When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his followers, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They answered, “Some say you are John the Baptist. Others say you are Elijah, and still others say you are Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 Then Jesus asked them, “And who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus answered, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because no person taught you that. My Father in heaven showed you who I am. 18 So I tell you, you are Peter. b On this rock I will build my church, and the power of death will not be able to defeat it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; the things you don’t allow on earth will be the things that God does not allow, and the things you allow on earth will be the things that God allows.” 20 Then Jesus warned his followers not to tell anyone he was the Christ.

Who do men say that I am?

“Some say you are John the Baptist. Others say you are Elijah, and still others say you are Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

- the disciples

Luke 9.18 tells us that Jesus has been praying in private before he enters upon this discussion with his disciples. Having been in intimate fellowship with his Father in prayer Jesus then comes to his disciples and asks two very searching questions.

Jesus in a moment will ask them not what other people say but what they think of him. Matthew records four answers to this question.

Some believe Jesus to be John the Baptist – who had been beheaded by Herod, had come back to life. Herod himself believed this. However the stupidity of this answer is easy to see when we remember that John had actually baptized Jesus. Then some think he is Elijah, of whom it was said that he would appear before the Day of the Lord (Malachi 4.5). Again we know that Jesus had identified John the Baptist as the one who had fulfilled that prophecy. He was the voice in the desert preparing the way of the Lord.

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