Something else I found which supports the interpretation that when Jesus called him “Simon bar Jonah”, he was commissioning Simon Peter to preach to the Gentiles in foreign lands.
An excerpt from a sermon titled “Israel and the Nations” by a Jew - Bob Mendelsohn,
Given at St Stephens Anglican church, Bomaderry NSW, Australia
But we didn’t always comply with God’s plan, did we? Do you remember the story of Jonah? He was a man of God who had a call to go to preach; only there was a problem. The recipients were supposed to be the Gentiles, Goyim, from Nineveh, which is the ancient area of modern-day Iraq. God wanted Jonah to share His message of love and redemption, but Jonah had racist bigotry and booked passage on a boat going the other way, for a three-hour-tour towards Tarshish. A storm arose, and Jonah got eaten up. The man in the whale got in trouble because he would not take the message of God to the Goyim. By the way, if you don’t know what a goy is, you are one. A large fish came, swallowed him and Jonah began to rethink the whole ‘go, don’t go’ thing.
Now let me remind you of another character in Jewish history, perhaps a bit more familiar. His name is Simon Peter, and one of his nicknames, perhaps his more formal name is Simon Bar Jonah. Once he was daydreaming and a vision came down from heaven. This by the way is recorded in the Bible in Acts chapter 10. In the dream Peter saw a sheet coming down from heaven with Four Corners. Remember the number four?
In this four-cornered sheet were all kinds of treif, non-kosher, in fact all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Something you might have seen on the latest episode of Survivor, but nothing this Jewish man would have eaten.
So God and Peter have a conversation and Peter reminds God of Peter’s heritage and tells him in no uncertain terms that he will no way, no how, eat such a thing. God in even fewer uncertain terms reminds Peter, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” (Acts 10.15). After two instant replays of this scene, Peter hears a knock on the door. It’s a group of ambassadors from the home of a Roman soldier named Cornelius, and it seems Cornelius wants to invite Peter along for a series of sermons. Peter was fascinated. They all stayed the night.
The Bible says that the next day all of them and several of the Jewish believers went along to Cornelius’ house in Caesarea. This town is some sixty-five miles northwest of Jerusalem. Quite a trek. And in the middle of Peter’s sermon, the Gentiles were all filled with the Holy Spirit and were born again. Amazing. Why would Peter go after all? What motivated him to leave and go to these Gentiles? He tells us, even as he began his sermon that day, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. “That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for.” (Acts 10:28-9) In other words, the vision of the bacon double cheeseburgers and the fish and chips Lobster shrimp basket was not about food, it was about Gentiles. It was about people! But not Jewish people, rather all the other peoples. Aha! “All the earth is mine!”
Peter had been staying down the coast with another Simon named Tanner. Do you remember in what town that was? Joppa the Bible tells us, a small suburb to modern day Tel Aviv. And it was at Joppa that Jonah refused to go to the Ninevites. Now, thousands of years later, the son of Jonah, Simon Bar Jonah, has his chance and does what his forebear did not. He takes the message of God and redemption to the Gentiles. God wants all people to have a chance to hear.
Jesus came to fulfill the role of “Israel”, to be God’s ultimate Israel, to bring the Good News to the Jews and to the Gentiles. He was the true High Priest who priested God’s message to the world, and who truly understood ‘all the earth is mine.’ He told the disciples to take the Good News message “to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” Here we see the particular and the universal again. Start with the particular, with the Jewish people and go to the ends of the earth.
Peter heard Y’shua originally speak this before the Ascension, but he didn’t really hear it, did he? He didn’t go. Not until Acts 10. It took Peter 10 years and 10 chapters to get it right about those outside his world.