Monday, November 28, 2005

Rethinking Peter

For an exegesis on John, I picked chapter 21, Peter's reinstatement by Jesus after the resurrection.  Some of the sources that I used made me think about the nature of our understanding of Peter as the rock of the early church.  2 gospels clearly mark Peter as the rock (Matt. and Luke), but the other 2 seem to indicate that Peter didn't really get it until after Jesus died.  Mark, considered by many to be Peter's gospel told through John Mark, indicates that noone "got it," save the centurion at the cross, before the resurrection.  John, thought by most to be John the Apostle's gospel, seems to suggest that Peter's full call didn't come until the reinstatement.  The language referring to Peter in John 1 is different than the language used in the call of the disciples, but John 21's language reinstating Peter parallels the language used in the call statements in John 1.  It strikes me as curious that the 2 gospels ascribed to the Apostles in the "inner-circle" describe Peter as rock-headed rather than as the rock of the church.  What's going on here? Do we see self-deprecation and envy? Do we see the perspective of insiders experienceing humanity's uncertain nature? And are Matt & Luke the perspective of the on-lookers?  I'm starting to think there might be some of that going on.  If that is what's going on, and Jesus is pronouncing  Peter's calling proper, who is the antecedant of allos (another) that will lead him where he does not want to go?   I used to think it referred to the guards leading Peter to the execution given verse 19, but if chapter 21 is the call of Peter, is Jesus suggesting that Peter is now ready to be led, and it is another that will lead him, namely the Holy Spirit, even to his death?  I don't know the answer.  I'm still wrestling with this, but I thought I give fodder for debate.

From my exegesis conclusion:

More importantly, though, the text of chapter twenty-one provides important insight into one of the leaders, possibly the primary leader, of the early church.  The text shows us that Peter’s contrition was actually the power to follow Jesus.  When he was younger he did, but in his contrition it was done.  I think this thought is reflected in chapter six at Peter’s confession.  Peter is remaining because of his belief, but Jesus says that he chose the twelve.  Peter is willing to do, but it is done because Jesus wills it, and it is not until Peter falls in his own power that he discovers his inability.  This is a good lesson for every Christ follower.  We can do many things in our own power, but we will eventually fall flat, but it is in the falling that we see the need for help, and it is when we are face down on the ground that we are most capable of being lifted and used.