And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, You are Simon the son of Jona: you shall be called Cephas…
Christ changed Simon's name.
1. As a sign of His authority and of taking entire possession of him, as a king might alter the name of some man whom he had captured.
2. As a promise of transforming power.
3. As a prophecy of his future office and importance in the Church. The Aramaic Cephas is the equivalent of the Greek Peter, "a stone." The alternation of these names afterwards is indicative of the following lessons.
I. THE DANGER OF THE NEW AND BETTER NATURE FALLING BACK TO THE OLD. Where "Simon" is employed in the Gospels it is suggestive of the apostle's uninspired and unregenerate humanity.
1. "Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have thee." There we see the exquisite delicacy with which Christ points the too presumptuous man away from his own fancied strength to the weakness of his humanity.
2. "Simon, sleepest thou?" Where is Peter? He would have kept awake.
3. "The Lord hath appeared unto Simon." This was from the apostles — all the rest are from Christ — all knew about his fall, that he had ceased to be the rock, and that his precedence and influence were gone.
4. "Simon, son of Jona (same as text), lovest thou Me?" Christ puts the fallen apostle in his place, makes him go back to the very beginning. He must go through the wicket-gate again.
II. THE FORGIVING LOVE WHICH DISCERNS THE TRUE MAN BELOW ALL HIS SIN.
1. "Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired... I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow," etc. Here is Christ's clear recognition of the better nature subsisting even whilst it appears to be smothered beneath the worse. Condemning the sinner, Christ would not break the bruised reed.
2. "Go, tell the disciples and Peter" — an incident recorded only by Mark, Peter's mouthpiece. "Tell Simon" would have been a rebuke; "tell Peter" is a smile of forgiveness, and an outstretched hand to grasp the sad hand of the denier.
III. THE GRAND POSSIBILITY THAT THE NEW MAN MAY TRIUMPH. "No more is heard of Simon, with two exceptions."
1. Cornelius is directed to send for Simon, who is called Peter, because outsiders would know him best by the one name, Christians by the other.
2. James, at the council of Jerusalem, calls him Simon, out of old and familiar friendship. Elsewhere it is always Peter. The transformation had now become complete. Effusive, impulsive daring is changed into steadfast, bridled courage. If once he "was to be blamed," that showed that he was still a man, and not a faultless, impossible monster. The sand has been put into a hydraulic press and comes out sandstone, strong and tenacious. This transformation is inexplicable without the Resurrection, the Ascension, and Pentecost.
IV. THE WHOLESOME REMEMBRANCE BY THE MAN HIMSELF OF WHAT HE WAS, JOINED WITH THE THANKFUL RECOGNITION OF WHAT HE IS. In his Second Epistle he introduces himself as "Simon Peter." Probably the long disused name had vanished from the memory of that generation;. but the old man reverts to it. Through the mist of long years he remembers what he was, and recalls his old un-sanctified self; but he is not afraid to call himself Peter. He is conscious of the higher life not his own which was promised him on the never-to-be-forgotten occasion mentioned in the text.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.