Summary: The very foundation of the Church, and of a relationship with Jesus begins with the fact that Jesus is indeed the son of God, the King, the Christ.
Some peoples’ surnames come from a vocation once held by their family – names like Smith, Porter, Baker, Carpenter. You can figure those out. There are some even more interesting names of real people where their name really fit their vocation…only maybe not on purpose.
I want your help this morning. I’ll give you the name of an actual person, and you guess what that person’s profession is, OK? For instance, here’s a guy named…
Mr. Downs – works for UPS, Chillicothe, OH
Sgt. Ketchum – MP officer, Ft. Knox, KY
Rex R. Case – attorney, New Jersey
William Wayne Justice – federal judge, TX
Amy Nail – manicurist, Red Oak, TX (her father is Danny Nail, contractor specializing in roofing)
I.M. Filer – IRS supervisor, OK City, OK
Joe Yawn – manager of sleep disorder clinic, Jonesboro, AR
Suzanne B. Tripp – travel agency owner, Ft. Smith, AR
Joe Boozer – liquor store owner, Hereford, TX
Murray Stasick – physician, Duluth, MN
Sir Henry Head, Sir Russell Brain – Neurologists, Great Britain
Dr. Mallet – Anesthesiologist, Palo Alto, CA
Dr. Phil Wright – Dentist, Anchorage, AK
Dr. Les Plack – Dentist, San Francisco
Miss Hunger – Dietician, Palm Springs, CA
Enter one fisherman named Simon, son of Jonah or John – Simon John-son. He was going to have a vocation change, and he was going to receive a new name to match his new profession.
We’ve already taken a look at several scenes from his story this morning. Stop early enough in his life, and you might have a few names of your own for Simon. You might call him Simon the 1st to speak and last to listen, or Simon the sure to speak whether or not he really has anything to say, or Simon the sure of himself, or Simon who really meant well.
As early as Simon’s introduction to us, Jesus interjects Himself into Simon’s life and changes his name.
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter).
That didn’t take long. From the first moment he saw Jesus, Simon became Peter. Little did he know how significant that would be. Peter is from the Greek word for “rock.” Rocky – not a bad nickname. It seems to have worked for Sylvester Stallone. But it was more than just a catchy nickname. It was about the great plans that Jesus had for Peter – and for the world. His encounter with Jesus didn’t mean a change just in Peter’s life. It really meant a change for the world.
The text we’re focusing on takes us into a time in Jesus’ ministry when the resistance against His claims was building. He was working miracles, and most people liked that. At the same time, He was saying some things difficult to listen to. The Pharisees and teachers of the Law were challenging His claims and His actions, and they were hoping to disgrace and quiet Him. A lot of different ideas about Jesus were going around.
Was He just insecure? No, Jesus knew Who He was. He didn’t need to be reminded of it. He was going to continue His ministry whether or not people accepted His claims. There had to be some other reason that Jesus asked the disciples that day, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
Crazy ideas? Not entirely. The last words of the OT were God’s promise that He was going to send the prophet Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. All the other guesses people had were all dead people too. The only way those answers could be right is if God brought back someone from the dead. But they at least recognized that Jesus was no ordinary man. He spoke with an authority that none of their teachers had. He was performing miracles, loving the unlovely, and proclaiming the intended spirit of God’s Law.
But everyone’s attempt to explain Jesus was just speculation. None of their guesses were right.
The disciples needed to think this through. Sometimes, we need to realize how significant it is that people aren’t getting it right. Is it a widespread mistake? Does it matter?
Imagine answering the same question today. Who do people say Jesus is? How would you respond?