Sunday, 16 September 2012

Friends in need

GospelMark 8:27-35

Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say I am?’ And they told him. ‘John the Baptist,’ they said ‘others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he asked ‘who do you say I am?’ Peter spoke up and said to him, ‘You are the Christ.’ And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.
  And he began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, ‘Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’

  He called the people and his disciples to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.’

I never used to have much time for Peter; I often wondered what Jesus sees in him. His actions seem clumsy; he has no sense of occasion and he is forever putting his foot in it. 

And yet this is the person the church is built upon.

I wrote a poem a while ago where Mary Magdalen asks Peter why 'his' church is the way it is. The link to the post I used it in is here

Who knew that he would write back? Not in poetry - but in feelings and emotions that I would have never considered in the lumbering image that I had of him. Peter loves Jesus - a brother and a friend -  in a way that he has never imagined loving anyone and it has changed him.

 Peter has a family; yet it seems that there are times when he will leave their welfare to the rest of his crew. For Jesus.

Peter has status; boat owner, business man, elder. Yet, he becomes a follower; he takes the lower place. For Jesus.

Peter's nature is the sea yet he is led into the desert; over and over again. And he goes. For Jesus.

When he looks at Jesus, Peter doesn't see prophets, seers or legends; he doesn't see covenants or oracles; he doesn't see promises or threats. 

 Peter sees Jesus. 

So when he is asked the question, the only answer he has is the truth; Jesus is....Jesus. And in that 'eye of love' he sees Jesus as clearly as Jesus sees him. Sees Jesus as clearly as the Father sees him; and the only word he has for that is - the Christ - the Anointed One. Chosen by God; chosen by Peter. 

That's the gift. That's Peter's gift to us. That is discipleship; that is faith. That, as ordinary and unworthy as he is; as imperfect and as fallible as he is; he loves and is loved by Jesus; by the Father; by the Spirit. And for a breath in time he sees it; he knows it.

But then; having named Jesus; he believes that he has some ownership over him. He seeks to limit and control him. He believes that he knows best what God should do; how the story should go.                                    

After all, if you have everything, can you welcome nothing? If you are happy can you welcome despair? If you feel secure can you welcome fear?

Peter is not Satan. The fear of loss is so very human. And surely Jesus feels it; the conversation with Peter may have shared those same feelings of what this will mean; may have talked through the needs and sacrifices. Jesus may well have warned Peter that the time was coming when Peter would have to be his 'rock'. 

And then, they turn round and there are the rest of the disciples listening in; reading the bodytalk; looking anxious. And the friendship is tested. How can Jesus keep his composure; how can he move his people if they are rooted in fear?

The greatest test of friendship perhaps, to allow yourself to be 'put in your place'; to be made an example of. A rebuttal so strong that the disciples will listen to the reality of what this acceptance will mean to them. So that Jesus can open eyes as Peter's have been opened. So that Jesus can teach God's way to his followers; the way of service and sacrifice; the way beyond our control; the way of the Cross.



Anonymous said...

To acknowledge that we are imperfect and loved is such a challenge (at least for me), but one with great treasures. And when our loved ones and God challenge us to grow in sometimes not so comfy ways is often when true growth occurs. <3

claire said...

Peter's nature is the sea yet he is led into the desert; over and over again. And he goes. For Jesus.

A great post, Word. Your connection with Peter makes you both very moving.

Thank you :-)

Word in the Hand said...

Ah Jade - what is there about change that is ever comfy? Imagine 'being loved' as a challenge - yet how much it is.

Claire - that line seemed to definitely come from Peter - how interesting that you picked it up. Thanks for your kindness.
Blessings to you both.

Lynda said...

I went back and read your poem and wept as it brought to the surface feelings I didn't realize were there. Then to read this post and to see the gentle and understanding way in which you perceive Peter is very touching.

Word in the Hand said...

Heaven forbid me saying it Lynda but these days I have a feeling Peter and Mary Magdalen would share the same concerns. thankyou and blessings to you