Posted by: donnatallman | January 28, 2013

What’s In a Name?

Considering Jesus Challenge

What’s In a Name?

John 21:15-17

Day 28, January 28, 2013, Monday:

“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’” John 21:15-17

Most of the sermons I’ve heard on today’s challenge passage have focused on Peter’s 3 denials of knowing who Jesus was, Jesus’ 3 questions for Peter (Do you love me?), and Peter’s emotional condition during his encounter with the resurrected Jesus. Since we’re Considering Jesus during the month of January, I tried to discipline my mind to think only about Jesus’ perspective during this scene. Once again, I was surprised by what I found.

On September 19, 2012, I wrote a blog titled, God Winked, in which I discussed this same scene, but from Peter’s perspective. I mentioned in that entry that this is one of those “full circle” moments in Scripture where God makes a strategic point through the use of repetition. When Peter first encountered Jesus back in Luke 5:3-10 he was almost in the exact same situation as he is here in John 21:15-17. In Luke 5, Peter had been fishing all night and caught nothing. Jesus instructed him to lower his nets assuring him there would be fish. Instantly, Peter was overwhelmed by the amount of fish filling his nets, but he was also overwhelmed by his sinful nature before a holy Jesus. Peter begged Jesus to leave him because he felt so unworthy.

Two things happened to Peter as a result of those early encounters with Jesus: 1) He left his career as a fisherman, and 2) Jesus changed his name from Simon bar Jonah to Peter.

Odd for Jesus to have changed his name…

So what was on Jesus’ mind when he addressed Peter for the first time in John 21:15? The verse says, “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs.’”

Two things caught my attention this morning about this passage. The first was that Jesus didn’t call him Peter; the name he had given him. Instead, Jesus reached back for Peter’s old name and addressed him as “Simon, son of John.”  (If you want to read more, I wrote an entry about this last year entitled, The Power of Encouragement on March 7, 2012) The second thing I noticed was by calling him Simon, Jesus transported Peter back to the person he was before he ever met Jesus; back to that guy who couldn’t even look Jesus in the face because of he felt so sinful…

…Wow, talk about a full circle moment!

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Jesus asked.


By pulling out Peter’s old name, it was as if Jesus was saying, “Do you remember who you were? You were the guy who told me how bad you were, but I called you to follow me anyway. You were the guy fishing for fish, but I had other plans. I still have plans for you, Simon! I don’t want you to go back to fishing fish; I want you to fish for men. I want you to take care of those who love me. Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

I easily identify with this story. I seldom (if ever) use my maiden name or even mention it. Why is that? Because for the majority of the years I lived with my former name, I didn’t live honorably. I didn’t know Jesus for more than half of those years, and even after deciding to follow him, I made some horrid choices with my life during a season of rebellion. I’d give anything to have many of those decisions back…

…but I can’t.

Occasionally, the Lord draws me back to those days and shows me who I was. He calls me by my maiden name. It’s always a gut-wrenching experience. The point isn’t to make me sick, but to pull the camera out and show me a bigger picture of my life in its bigger context. Jesus wants me to see who I was so I can also see who I’ve become during the intervening years since Jesus first called me. His transformation has been significant.

Yes, Lord you know that I love you.

“Shepherd my sheep…”

Sometimes we need to be reminded of our past so we can embrace our future.

Is Jesus pulling back the camera of your life to show you the bigger picture he is producing? What do you see?

Considering Jesus Challenge Passage for Tomorrow, January 29, 2013:

After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20:26-29

© Copyright, 2013 by Donna Tallman.




  1. Beautiful, Donna.

    • Thanks, Adrianne – you’re an inspiration!

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