Saturday, July 19, 2008

Running from the past: Breakfast with Jesus IV

An Easter sermon from John 21: part IV
For some of the disciples, for a while, they don’t know what to make of the thrilling yet confusing events of Easter Sunday. They make a return to their old lives, their old jobs as fishermen in Galilee. Their families need to be cared for; a living needs to be earned; nets need to be mended; fish must be caught.

But for Simon, there is another layer to this story. He had been with Jesus from the start, and was the most keen, the first to jump in with an answer. To him, Jesus had given a new name: Peter, meaning "the rock". And with it a new task: to be rock solid in his faithfulness to Jesus and God’s kingdom. On the night before Jesus died, when Jesus had started to speak of what was coming, Simon had pledged to be Peter, to follow Jesus no matter what, even to die for Jesus if it came to that.

Of course, within merely hours, it had come to that, and he had failed – twice. First, in the heat of the arrest, he had pulled out a sword and started swinging, full of courage, but demonstrating that he hadn’t understood Jesus' message or purpose after all. And then, even worse, while sitting round a charcoal fire outside the trial at which Jesus was being condemned to death, he had denied even knowing his friend and master in order to save his own skin. Three times. He denied the past three years of his own life. Peter, the rock, had turned out to be just Simon the fisherman after all. His exciting new identity proved to be as mortal as the one who had bestowed it.
Series: I; II: III; IV; V; VI; VII; VIII; IX.


Megs said...

what a relief! it's ok to be human!
all the very very very best with your move to Edinburgh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

byron smith said...

Megs, I'm not sure I follow your comment. Can you explain it? I might have misunderstood your point, but I'm not sure that it was just being human, nor did Simon think it was ok. It was a tragedy that he denied his friend and master in his hour of greatest need, that he broke a promise and betrayed himself as well. I find Simon's subsequent weeping to be one of the most touching moments of the Gospel, because his failure was so spectacular. And then Jesus' gracious restoration in the rest of the passage in John 21 is so beautiful precisely because it wasn't a minor and easily excusable mistake that Simon made.

And thanks! What a shame we leave a few months too early...