Tuesday, August 5, 2008

PETRA SKANDALOU


"When Jesus at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its corner stone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward - in word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His church, and the gates of hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they are founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded upon a weak man, and for this reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than it's weakest link."
G. K. Chesterton


I am neither a Greek scholar nor am I a student of Church history, but I love Peter, the apostle. I love to read about him and his antics. And I truly love Peter the person because he is most like me or more correctly I am most like him.

Let's get the scholarly thing out of the way quickly. This pope thingy. AS far as I can tell, read that my interpretation of the "rock foundation naming convention" falls in line with some thinkers from around town, past and present. St. Augustine became caught up in a war of words with Rome. Augustine's interpretation of the scriptural passage the RC uses is taken to mean that the church was founded on Him whom Peter confessed, namely the Messiah. Peter, the name was taken from Petra and the Petra is Christ. Peter, is everyman -- all of us. The Church Jesus founded was founded on everyman. Peter, his real life person, represents all of us. The Stone Peter takes his name from the (Petra) is Christ. Just as Christians get their name from Christ and not the other way around. I will let you shcolars of Greek and whatever help me out on this. I wish to turn my attention slightly left of center.

For me, I would like to add to the discussion that Peter is my kind of guy. When he saw Jesus walking on the water he jumped out of the boat and practically ran to him until he looked down and said, "Oh - Oh!" He realized he was doing something that he could not ordinarily do and began to sink, calling out for help! Isn't that just like you and me? We get out there sometimes and we are doing stuff we do not and could not ordinarily do and then suddenly realize, "Oh-Oh" and begin to sink. We then end up calling on our Lord to help us out. And He does!

Or, better still, how many times have you been in a position where you are receiving some gift or some accolade or some help you really do not deserve. Peter, having Christ come up to him and wanting to wash his feet, and Peter rebelling against that saying Lord, you should not be doing this, then finally gushing forth with not only my feet but my head and my hands and my whole body! Jesus is both generous and patient with us.

And how many times have we had someone standing on a street corner asking for help and we turn the other way and move away. Not unlike the people around the fire in the courtyard that would come up to Peter and say, "Don't you know this man Jesus?" And Peter would fairly shout I have never seen Him before in my life!" Jesus is always there to forgive our sins, seen and unseen, done and left undone.

And finally, the corollary. Jesus, after the resurrection asking Peter, "Do you love me." How many times in the quiet of our hearts has Jesus said this to us. And our response, "Lord you know that I love you!" and Jesus says, "Feed my sheep." This is always a tough one because Jesus defines His sheep as those tax collectors, the sinners the wanderers, the strays, just about all of us. And feeding his sheep seems like such a huge task. But we must all find our own way and do just that. Jesus wants us to love and transform that love into action in this world.

Yep, Peter is my favorite. John is a wonder, Paul is a brilliant scholar, Judas, while I think about him a lot his persona is really too complex for me, the rest of the apostles are just an amorphous group, but I like Peter. Peter thinks like me, acts like me, is rash and impulsive and is quick to cut and run when the going gets tough but is also loving and caring and compassionate and represents me in all my failings but also in all my potential. Yes, Peter is a good choice to build a church upon, that is just one more way I realize that we are all in!

2 comments:

Jase said...

Me, too, Fred. I'm always going where angels fear to tread and then wondering how the heck I got there and, "now that I'm here, what do I do NOW?"


But remembrer, Peter is aso the wone who said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

I'm not that astute!

Wayne said...

Even though I have some theological education with a smattering of Greek, I did not realize the underlying dynamic in the "Peter, do you love me?" dialogue.

In the first two questions, Jesus uses the "agape" form of "love." And Peter replies using the "phileo" (brotherly) form.

In the third question, Jesus steps "down" to Peter's level and asks "Do you love (philio) me?"

This makes clear for me why Peter was offended. Jesus backs off and only ask Peter for his brotherly love, not the higher sacrificial love of the first two questions.

The pastoral implication of this is wonderful. Jesus is very accomodating to Peter, only asking of him what he is able to commit to at the time.

It is, of course, also significant that after Peter's three denials in the courtyard a few days (weeks?) before, Jesus offers Peter three opportunities to restore his relationship.

~Wayne