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In Search of the Apostles 'Simon Peter' (part 1)
'Simon' or 'Peter'?
A favorite of many
Ask anyone for the names of Bible characters and probably one of the first two they'll give you is the name 'Peter' one of the most loved characters in the whole book, and one we can all identify with in some way or other!
Maybe it's the 'bravado' he shows at times making big bold statements about how he'll defend Jesus "Even unto death!" Or when he's been out fishing all night and Jesus tells him to do something he doesn't want to, but because it's Jesus, he does it and gets a boatload of fish, we all have a favorite story about him.
Everyone has a favorite story of Peter
Everyone has a 'favorite' story of Peter, which one's yours?
Who was he really?
From a previous hub, we know Peter was Andrew's older brother and earned his living by fishing on the Sea of Galilee. When we first encounter him Andrew and he are working on their boat, one gospel has it that they'd been out all night and caught nothing, then along comes this carpenter from nearby Nazareth.
"Throw your nets over the other side!" Jesus shouts.
"What the heck does he know about fishing" you can almost hear him say under his breath, but before he says anything out loud Andrew stops him in his tracks.
"Simon" Andrew says quietly, "that's the one I told you about! The Messiah"
"Yeah right," he thinks but then "Listen bud" he yells, "we've caught nothing all flipping night, but as he says you're special" nodding towards Andrew who's got a grin from ear to ear, "why not" and over the net goes. Just a few seconds later the nets full and bursting, the boat nearly gets holed as Simon's jaw drops to the deck and they have to call for help just to 'land the catch'
Okay, I know there's some 'artistic' license taken, but all four Gospels have the story of the calling of the first four disciples, and John has this particular story after the resurrection, but all four of them have a story, and one of the Gospels is actually Simon telling it 'in his own words'
Read the story in Simon’s own words in Mark chapter 1 verse 16 to 21, or Matthew 4 verse 18-22 or there’s a longer version in Luke 5 verses 1-11
Interestingly in Luke Jesus sort of borrows the boat for an ‘impromptu’ sermon and then tells the boys afterwards to throw the net into the water for some fish! John says this event happened after the resurrection!
What’s interesting is that whatever happened that morning was enough for four pretty gruff fishermen to throw down their nets and follow this itinerant preacher, and to make things more interesting we find that Simon was actually married and had a family to feed!
Jesus takes care of Peter's family
29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out
'Call and provision'
Was it the time by the sea that convinced Simon to follow Jesus? Was it what Andrew had said? Or was it something much more practical? That Jesus had come into his home, seen a need and healed someone?
What about the catch of fish?
Remember there was no ‘social security’ in those days, you either worked or you starved, yet Jesus was telling them to leave their work behind, who was going to look after the family? A huge catch like that would go a long way to helping them live for the next few years. Maybe that’s why Luke put the story in, to show that when Jesus calls he also provides for that call!
What's in a name?
Remember the passage where Jesus gives a new name to 'Simon'? He'd just worked out that Jesus wasn't some 'Great prophet' like the prophets of old, and he wasn't some great teacher but really was the promised Messiah and from God.
Jesus turns it round by renaming Simon to 'Peter' or 'Cephas' then makes a statement that the church has been arguing over for the last two thousand years!
Is it the man 'Cephas' on which the church is built, or is it the 'statement' (Cephas or rock) on which the church is built? I'll leave you to think on that one, but there is something really important there.
In Arab and Jewish culture even today your name is important as it describes who you are, or whom your parents want you to be, it describes the character traits they want so much to see in their child. As such the name is one of the most important gifts that anyone can give you!
Classic example ‘A boy named Sue’?
When ‘Sue’ finally meets his dad, dad tells him these words
“So I gave you that name, and said goodbye.
I knew you’d either have to get tough or die
And it’s that name that helped to make you strong”
‘Simon’ comes from the Hebrew ‘Simeon’ or ‘Shimon’ as they pronounce it and literally means “He has heard” (meaning God) even in the modern language it still carries that meaning and is linked to the word “Shama” or “Hear” as in the proclamation. “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is one God” (Deuteronomy 6 verse 4 known as ‘The Shema’),
That’s whom Simon’s parents wanted him to be, one who would listen to the call of God and answer. Jesus had other ideas of what he would become; he changed the name to ‘Peter’ or ‘Petros’ (Arabic ‘Boutros’) meaning a stone or a rock!
Some of the gospels use the name ‘Cephas’ which is apparently the Aramaic equivalent and is used by some scholars to suggest that behind the translations of the Bible we have and the ancient Greek manuscripts there may be even older Aramaic writings that have been lost to us over time.
Was it the name that helped make the man?
What do you think?
Can something as simple as a name help shape you and your destiny?
Jesus changes his name
Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter (Petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
Here's a challenge
Before you go on with the rest of the hub. Think of all the names that you're known by, not just the name that you were born with, (though they are as important as any you 'claimed' for yourself as they were what your parents wanted you to be!) but all of them, nicknames, even the little names your spouse calls you, do they describe you?
I lived a while in the Middle East and when I was there a lot of the people there didn't like to use western names (though with a name like 'Lawrence' some countries loved that name and I was an instant friend!) so in Egypt they gave me an 'Egyptian name'. I went by the name of 'Tariq' which literally means 'one who knocks' or basically a pretty forceful character!
I wasn't too sure about the name but things would happen and I'd react to them in my own way and the Egyptians would just burst out laughing as I was reacting exactly the way a 'Tariq' would! Apparently it was an appropriate name for me and I still love it!
But what about you, does your name describe something about your character? I bet it does, even if you don't see it at the time!
Some of the Christian friends I had in the Middle East used to tell me I was like Peter too, and when I strongly disagreed with them (who really likes to think of Peter's denial of Jesus and realize they're just like him) they'd howl with laughter as that's exactly how they saw Peter reacting!
Mark 14 verses 27-31
27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’[d]
28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
29 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”
30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice[e] you yourself will disown me three times.”
31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.
That's all for now.
When I started this hub I thought that I'd get through Simon Peter's life in the one 'hub' and move on, but part of the reason for the series is to see what we can learn from the early followers of Jesus and Simon Peter has so much to tell us that it just wouldn't be right to 'rush off' and force things so I'm going to stop here and let people have some input about it.
Truth is the book that these accounts are taken from was written down with the sole purpose of changing lives, and that's what it's all about for me, as we look at how they responded and see that if Jesus could use simple hardworking folks like Peter, with all his faults and as outspoken as he was, then maybe he can use us too?
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