Wednesday, February 26, 2020

In their own words. Introduction and Day One


This series of forty daily reflections to take us through Lent focus on our church’s Patron Saints, Peter and Paul. The first twenty reflections follow St Peter’s story through the Gospel and the Book of Acts, and the second twenty are words from the seven letters attributed to Paul in the New Testament which are generally regarded as authentically written by him. There will be more on St Paul at the beginning of the second part of these reflections in twenty days time, but we start with an introduction to St Peter. Scroll down past that for the first of the daily reflections.

It’s a slight cheat to call these first twenty reflections the “words” of St Peter, because they are actually words which the writers of the Gospels and Acts have put into his mouth. (There are two letters attributed to Peter in the New Testament but, for a variety of reasons, the majority of academic theologians don’t consider it likely that they are by him. They are too late to be his work, and the Greek they’re written in seems too sophisticated to be the work of a Galilean fisherman. They were probably, therefore, the work of someone who was inspired by Peter.

Peter was one of the closest disciples of Jesus, originally from Bethsaida, but, by the time we meet him, living in, and fishing from, the lakeside town of Capernaum. Jesus heals his mother-in-law, so he must have been married, though his wife isn’t mentioned (Luke 4.38). According to John’s Gospel, his brother, Andrew, also a fisherman, introduced him to Jesus, though the other Gospels have different accounts of their first meeting.

Peter often seems like the “spokesperson” of the disciples, the one who is first to leap in with a response to Jesus’ questions. Is he brave or impulsive? It’s left to us to decide! Originally called Simon, Jesus gave him a new nickname, Peter (Cephas in Aramaic), which means “Rock”, and said to him “on this Rock I will build my church”. (Matthew 16.18). He is given the “keys of the kingdom” because Jesus calls him to open the way for people to come into a new sort of relationship with God and one another. That’s why his symbol is usually a pair of keys. Famously, though, when Jesus is arrested, he denies knowing him – his courage fails him - but after Jesus’ resurrection he discovers that Jesus has forgiven him, and calls him to lead his fledgling group of followers.

The Bible doesn’t tell us about his death, but early traditions say that he was executed in Rome, probably around 64 AD, during the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Nero.

Day 1 - Luke 5.8

When Simon Peter saw [the nets full of fish], he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!’

Luke’s account of the calling of Simon Peter says that he first met Jesus when Jesus asked to borrow his boat as a “floating pulpit” so he could speak to the crowds on the shore more easily.  After Jesus had finished speaking to them, (Simon had had to listen, whether wanted to or not!), Jesus tells him to take the boat out into the deep water. Simon protests that they have “fished all night but caught nothing” but he does as Jesus asks him. The catch of fish is so huge, that the nets begin to break and Simon has to ask for help to bring them in. Simon is overwhelmed, not just with fish, but with amazement at what has happened. His response to Jesus, above, shows that he recognises that he is in the presence of someone holy. His reaction, at first, is one of fear, but Jesus tells him not to be afraid and calls him to follow him.

How would you have felt if you were Simon Peter in this story? What would your response have been?

No comments:

Post a Comment