Because of Andrew, Peter found himself in the presence of Jesus. Perhaps surprisingly for those who know something of Peter’s later history he is not recorded as saying anything here. Usually Peter had a lot to say, but instead John has decided to tell his readers what Jesus had to say to Peter. In a sense, John in doing this is saying to his readers to remember that Jesus revealed something important when he spoke to Peter.
Peter discovered at least two important truths about Jesus at this time. First, he discovered that Jesus knew all about him. We see this in the way that Jesus addressed Peter and pointed out his family details. The fact that Jesus knows everything about everyone can be disconcerting or encouraging. It all depends on what we imagine he will do with his knowledge of us.
Jesus would have known about Peter’s character, about his unpredictability and his impetuosity, as well as his willingness at times to do the unusual. Jesus would have known about Peter’s secret and public sins. It is the same with regard to us. We have to accept the fact that Jesus knows all about us, but in addition we have to accept that fact with encouragement rather than with fear. He knows us as the Saviour as well as the judge of all. If we only think about him from the latter point of view, we will be afraid or even hostile to him. But if recall he is the Saviour, then we will realise that he knows what he has to save us from.
The second lesson that Peter learned was that Jesus had a plan for Peter’s life. This divine intention is revealed in the new name that Peter received from Jesus. Jesus did not call Peter by an irrelevant name with no significance. Instead, he gave a name that revealed his intentions to Peter. Simon was going to become a rock, one who would be steady when the storms came, who would be reliable when things were crashing down around him.
I don’t think Jesus is indicating here that Peter would become one of the foundation stones of the church. Instead, he is saying that Peter will become a different person. And is that not what Jesus does with everyone who becomes a follower of his? Paul tells us that every believer is a new creation, that each one of them is made new. Of course, every one requires a process as the entire change does not happen immediately. But the change affects each part of us, and we are changed gradually to become like Jesus himself.