Monday, July 28, 2008

Running from the past: Breakfast with Jesus VI

An Easter sermon from John 21: part VI
But let’s keep our attention on Simon Peter. The charcoal fire on the beach is a subtle reminder of a similar fire just weeks earlier, of the unfinished business between Jesus and the one who had denied him. After breakfast, Jesus takes him aside and gently but firmly gives him the words he couldn’t find for himself. Three times he had denied Jesus. Three times Jesus asks him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter the rock is being reminded that he is also Simon, the failure. He can’t keep running from his past. He has to face it. Jesus is allowing him to start again, but not by saying “forget about it; it doesn’t matter” or “let’s put it behind us”. This is not an erasure of the error, a burial of the past. It is a creative re-making of a new future. Each time Simon affirms his love, Jesus recommissions him: “feed my sheep”. Remember, Jesus is the good shepherd, and he includes Simon in that important task.

Simon is not earning forgiveness by his affirmations of love. No, Jesus is graciously showing him that Simon can still be Peter, that failure is not final, that his error neither disqualifies him nor needs to be hidden.
Series: I; II: III; IV; V; VI; VII; VIII; IX.


Mark Stevens said...

Is the photo of the Roman baths in Bath?

byron smith said...

Well done - it is indeed. I hadn't yet offered points (since I'm taking a bit of a break from that), but I'll give you ten anyway.

Mark Stevens said...

It was in Barth that I first felt compassion for the poor! A rather long story but a profound experience in which my heart was open for the first time to the plight of someone other than myself. I think I was about 14 at the time.

byron smith said...

What were you doing reading Barth at age 14? I knew you were obsessed, but wow!