July 16, 2005

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt- crystal

Someone said it was ironic that Peter, who here denies Jesus, was chosen as the rock on which the church was to be built. But maybe it isn't ironic after all. Was Peter's place as the rock earned or given as a gift? Remember the scripture passage parable about the landowner who hires workers early in the day and then some more workers almost at the end of the day ... all end up being paid the same wage (Matthew 20:1-16). I read a homily once that said ...

The reign of God is like an SAT examination: some worked night and day exhausting themselves in preparation; some paid thousands in coaching fees to learn the secret tricks; and some went out partying every night and guessed the answers. All got the same score ... That the reign of God is not earned but given. That charity trumps justice in God’s game of life.

Peter loved Jesus. Only one unnamed disciple went with Jesus when he was arrested, the others all ran away. Except Peter. Peter wasn't perfect, but maybe he didn't have to be because Jesus loved Peter.


At 7:44 a.m., Blogger david said...

I think the assumption is the unnamed disciple is the Beloved Disciple is John the Evangelist.

Yet Jesus chooses Peter the stumbling one. Maybe because he loved him -- maybe in the foreknowledge Peter was the stumbling one. Maybe becaue he stumbles and yet is forgiven and yet is commissioned so stumbling ones like us can still accept our commissions.

ASnd yes I think there is irony there. I find much of scripture to be ironic. Saul who persecuted the faith becomes Paul the champion of the faith. The portrayal of the disciples -- especially in Mark. In many of the stories in the Hebrew scriptures -- Jonah, Balaam, Esau, Noah.

At 11:56 a.m., Blogger crystal said...

Hi David. My theory of why Jesus picked Peter is that he thought Peter loved him more than the other disciples did ... you know, that part on the beach where he asks him if he loves him more than the others? He may not have been the smartest or the bravest, but perhaps he was the most motivated ... people will do things for love that they wouldn't do for any other reason.

At 5:40 p.m., Blogger david said...

How do we measure love?

Actions? Peter fails the test relative to others (the sons of zebedee seem like social climbers) -- but John seems to exhibit better faithfulness. And why not wait for Paul?

Intensity of emotion? Can we know that one person has a more intense emotion than another? Maybe Jesus could. Maybe God does. Is that the test?

I think all we can know is that according to some strong witnesses in scripture the early church affirms that Jesus chose Peter to be the leader of the Christian church. And -- incidnetally -- the early church took a long time coming round to that. By all accounts James was the leader.

At 9:43 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:46 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:12 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

Argh! Double delete! I'm wrong - it was Paul not Peter in Corintians ... I think I'll give up before I have to delete again :-)

At 5:24 a.m., Blogger david said...

Yea Verily, Blog is an angry Blog!

My own opinion is that there is a lot of politics behind this stuff which we don't see as its behind the surface.

When we read that Jesus commissioned Peter in the resurrection do we take that as a literal event? Or maybe in the political confrontation between James and Paul -- Peter took a moderate and middle ground stance and ended up getting recognized as a leader of a different sort. And folks read back into that that Jesus had so commissioned him.

That is likely a fiction of mine.

I keep falling back on what we know: the spirit-led witness of the early church as evidenced by scripture makes Jesus naming Peter has the foundation of his church -- but never presents him in a leadership role -- the leadership role is given to James and to Paul for the gentiles. Yet tradition looks to Peter as the first Pope.

At 9:21 a.m., Blogger Larry said...

As long as we're speculating about who might have loved Jesus most, how about Thomas? He was thought by many to be Jesus's twin. He appeared to have a key role in establishing the church: at one period of history his Church of the East was as numerous as the Church of the West.

Actually I'm of the opinion he loved them all more or less equally, just like the Father, just like I did (or tried to do) as a father.

At 11:07 a.m., Blogger kiznath said...

Hi everyone,

My favorite perspective on this is that Jesus chose a group of nobodies or not-good-enoughs to follow him. In those times, young boys would go through vigorous training to become disciples of rabbis. Depending on how well you did in the training, you were either chosen to go on to the next level, or asked to go back home to learn the family trade.

"Ironically", when Jesus chose the twelve, several of them were fishing, a couple with their father. Obviously, they had not been good enough to continue on with the training to follow a rabbi. And here was a rabbi, THE rabbi, asking them to follow him - pretty much unheard of.

So when Peter denies Jesus and then becomes the Rock, I think it's a testament to God's faith in us. We all stumble, we all have reason to believe that there's nothing we can do to stand behind a rabbi like Jesus. But like someone else wrote, much of the Bible is ironic - although I'm not sure I like that term because it sounds cynical to me. I prefer to think that Jesus turns things upside down, using ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

At 12:24 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

Hi kiznath ... I prefer to think that Jesus turns things upside down, using ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

... I like to think of it that way too.

Larry, I didn't mean Jesus loved Peter best but that maybe Peter loved Jesus more than the other disciples, because of that part in John 21- “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these do?”

David, are you saying that certain things happened politically/historically and then the gospels stories (like Peter being chosen to lead the church) were written afterward to reflect that? Now who is cynical? :-)

At 5:19 p.m., Blogger david said...

I've always been somewhat cynical. C'est la vie.

But yes that is what's I'm saying. And I don't necessarily think its being cynical. The Christian scriptures seem to affirm Peter as leader of the Twelve. They also are suspicious of the Twelve as an institution.

The "heroes" -- the -- can-do-no-wrong types seem to be outsiders. Paul. Stephen.


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