This is a short look into the life of one of Jesus’ closest disciples, Simon Peter. Dr. Coleman brings to life his part in the Easter story. – Bob
Easter Meditation — A Look At Simon Peter Who Is So Like US – or, we’re so like him!
We all know the story. It’s in the Bible, we live in what some call the “Bible-belt,” and we’re “Bible-people.” Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and Sunday preaching for as long as most of us can remember, etched the story into our mind and it has been a part of our life.
Mark gives the narrative in chapters 11 to 16 with the parallels in both Matthew and Luke; in John it begins in chapter 12 with the entry into Jerusalem and in 13 we’re with Jesus and the disciples in the Upper Room.
Many words stick in our mind –
The entry into Jerusalem – “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; Blessed is the kingdom of David that is coming. Hosanna in the highest.”
In the temple seeing the abuse and misuse of God’s house – “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations, but you’ve made it into a den of robbers.’ ”
To the Pharisees who came, Mark says “to trap him in his talk” – “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”
And to the Scribe who came asking about the commandments – “Love God and love your neighbor.”
In the Upper Room – “One of you will betray me.”
Later that night in the Garden, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done!”
The thing about Holy Scripture is that it refuses to let us read it simply as history.
we enjoy and are moved by the narrative,
and before we know it –
all of a sudden –
it’s not the Pharisees or the Scribe
or the Disciples who are back-pedaling
and trying to dodge the implication of His penetrating words;
we are in full focus.
We are saying, “Is it I”;
“Not me, Lord, I will never deny you”;
“But, Lord, that’s a hard saying to follow – after all, who is my neighbor?”
Scripture speaks to us and will not let us go but demands a response of some sort!
It’s not just Simon Peter saying “Lord, I’ll never deny you; I’ll go all the way, even if it means death!”
Jesus replies, “Peter, you don’t know what you’re saying; before this very night is over . . .”
And we know the story. Three times Peter declares, “I don’t know him; no, no, I’m not one of his followers!”
===The Bible story always offers us redemption – love – grace – mercy!
===We’re not left holding the bag that contains only our denials, our bad side, evidence of our awful arrogance!
===The CROSS and RESURRECTION loom forth – and all can be changed in our lives.
The awfulness and the horror of Golgotha are now behind us!
The glorious life-giving HOPE of the resurrection is now a reality!
And here is Jesus standing in our midst!
The resurrected Lord takes our bag full of the things we wish we could forget forever
and exchanges it for His bag of love and grace;
he always gives us a chance to change!
The writer of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament remembers this great truth and declares triumphantly and joyfully that “he remembers our sins against us no more!”
The message of the Gospel is that change can come;
we’re not forever locked into our moments of weakness,
Jesus brings redemption!
For Peter it came at the seashore. They had gone fishing; some interpreters say Peter had decided to chunk the whole thing and go back to the old way – he was a fisherman. It was a fishless night – bad news for a fisherman.
At dawn, there is Jesus, the resurrected Lord, on the shore. They don’t recognize him at first.
Then they do. Peter jumps in and swims ashore ahead of the rest. It’s Jesus. Breakfast is ready. They eat and perhaps make small talk; we don’t really know. We do know, however, when the big, life-changing conversation begins.
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” (Note – these may refer to his other concerns in life, his fishing trade, his boat, and all other priorities he may have;
OR, it may be a challenge like – “Simon, you bragged that you’d go even to death with me; you said you would not be like the others and run off into the night! Tell me now, Simon, do you really love me more than they?”)
You remember the story – John 21 – almost an after thought in the Gospel, but one that spoke loud and clear to Simon Peter and today continues to speak directly to us!
Three times, “do you love me” (remember – [a?ap??] agapeo, the big word for love, the John 3:16 kind of love; how God loves us, how we should love God, and ideally how we should love each other), and three times, “Lord, you know that I love you.”
Each time Simon Peter uses another word for love – phileo [f????], brotherly love, brotherly affection.
Nothing wrong with this word. A good word. But it is not the same; it would be on the next rung.
The third time Jesus asked the question, he too uses the phileo word, rather than agapeo.
Lesson for us – I think Simon is refusing to be so bragging about his love for Jesus;
no more arrogancy;
no more putting his foot in his mouth.
“Yes, Lord, I do, I do, I really do love you.”
The challenge from Jesus – I have a job for you; do it.
An Easter Challenge For Us
To us, during this Lenten season, the challenge has come in many ways, I’m sure! Today, the challenge comes as we read this narrative.
It is not just Simon Peter who squirms but has to face the Lord as honestly as he can muster –
we too must answer the question coming from Jesus, the resurrected Lord. “Do you love me, really love me?”
May we be able to answer, “Yes, yes, yes. We love you.”
And then listen . . .
listen ever so closely.
We may hear him say, as he said to Peter, “I’ve got a job for you.”
Then, this Easter season may we go back into the part of the world that is ours, going, determined to do the job he has for us!
MAY GOD BLESS US AS WE GO!
About the Author
G. Byrns Coleman is a retired Professor of Religion and Chair of Department of Religion & Philosophy, Wingate University, Wingate, NC . He is also a member of Wingate Baptist Church .
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