Saturday, April 30, 2011

John 18 - some people are strong in trials, and some aren't, and why

John 18 is a great example of the contrast between Jesus meek and mild and that assertive, confident, tower of strength, Peter, whose name of course means rock.

During his nighttime arrest in the olive orchard, Jesus identifies himself as "I Am He" and for some reason the guards fall down. Maybe they slipped on some spilled olive oil. Jesus wants to go peaceably, but Brave Peter draws his sword and cuts off a guy's ear.

While Jesus is inside the high priest's house allowing himself to be grilled and slapped around by the Sanhedrin, Peter stares down the guard outside. Well to be honest the guard is just a slave girl. And maybe the stare has a "deer in the headlights" flavor to it. But when she asks him if he is a disciple of Jesus, he shoots right back with an answer: "I Am Not!" (It is a little known fact that afterwards behind his back the other disciples sometimes called Peter "The Great I Am Not".)

Inside the high priest's house Jesus shows that he would rather defend "truth" than himself. After an official clobbers Jesus, any decently manly prophet would have produced a bolt of lightning or at least a well-deserved prophetic curse. Alas, Jesus just questions the man's motives: "If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?" Defend yourself, Jesus! You seem to be mistaken about just who is on trial here.

Brought before Pilate, Jesus is once again so preoccupied with "truth" that he manages to say just the wrong thing ("You are right in saying that I am a king") but won't back it up with a threat ("and for centuries Rome will be so subject to me that Romans will name their kids after my disciples").

Here is the difference between Jesus and Peter. One man knew who he was and what mattered. The other didn't. It's that simple.

ADDENDUM - a sister in Christ sent along the following comment, which I print in full. She is showing considerably more grace to Peter than I did. Happily for Peter, so did the Lord!

I think Peter is in training here. God needed to show Peter, who Peter was, before God could train Peter to become who God wanted him to become. A revelation of who Peter was, was necessary, before training could really begin. I think this is true of many of us. And from here, God took Peter to much higher levels of walking w/ God. And Peter was ready, because he knew where he could fail. And he wanted more of God. May this be true of us all; to want more of God, because we know who we are and how easily we can miss God.

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