Monday, February 14, 2005

Today's Gospel Reading

After Jesus returned from the dead, he visited Peter and the other disciples who, instead of preaching the truth as Jesus had commanded, were back to fishing. Peter, dumb old Peter, the rock upon whom Jesus built his church, let fear, instead of faith, dictate his actions. Jesus returned to Peter for a pep talk. Jesus knew Peter, even after everything that had happened, even after all the miracles, even after betraying Jesus’ trust, even after Jesus rose from the dead, still did not get it. Jesus had chosen Peter to found the faith. Jesus would have to make it explicit to Peter what He expected, even if it meant repeating Himself.

John 21:15-22

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?

Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when He had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; (which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?) Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.

Eventually, Peter got it and became the evangelist Jesus knew he would be.

However interesting this exchange is to illuminate Peter’s psychology and Jesus’ leadership style, the most interesting part of this passage is where Jesus says “What is that to thee?” That is the central answer to all who question the hard truths of Christianity. You know the questions I mean…”why is there evil in the world?” “Why does God allow children to die?” How can God create humans whom he will condemn to death?” I admit that there are many hard parts of Christianity which to my limited intellect don’t make any sense or seem pointless.

Here are my questions, “Why did Jesus want us to eat his body and drink his blood?” “What is baptism all about?” “Why was Jesus so maddeningly vague?” And although I have the questions about these things, I also have the answer. What is that to me?

Jesus is God. He came. He did what He did. He said what He said. He wants us to believe. That is all we need to know. The “why” is unknowable now, and will be revealed to us when we see Jesus.