Friday, April 29 2022
“The story of Jesus as he goes to the cross is the story we all know: the story of what happens when our vision of the world and of ourselves come crashing down. Jesus comes to the place, not where the signposts originally appear to be pointing, but where they have collapsed… we find that the God who we might have hoped would meet us in the place to which justice, love, freedom and truth had pointed has instead come to meet us in the place where justice, love, freedom and truth were denied and trampled upon. Our place. Our broken place. Our broken world” (NT Wright).
The Creator of the universe launches a new way of living (the Kingdom of God) in a tiny manger. Jesus is born as fully human and fully divine to show us the truth that God hears our cries and sends Jesus that we might have life and live it abundantly. Jesus eats with sinners, brings hope to the dispossessed, gives living water to the thirsty, feeds the hungry, and brings wholeness to those who are broken. Jesus is sentenced, tortured, and suffers a cruel and horrible death. Several women witness his resurrected body and he appears to a few folks on the road to Emmaus. Jesus appears to Doubting Thomas and the other disciples. Then he appears to several hundred others and God’s new order is launched. Later, Jesus appeared to Paul and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. We wake up this morning to a broken world to a God who still listens to our cries. God sends Jesus to us when we are hurting and to those places in the world where God’s love is needed.
When I interviewed in graduate school, the first question they asked me was, “who in the bible can you relate to and why?” I answered, “Peter.” There was a long pause. Dr. Akma opened his eyes wide, shook his head, and asked, “Why?” I stumbled and stuttered and said, “None of this makes any sense to me. My wife, three kids, and a dog are leaving great jobs, a beautiful home, good friends, and a happy life, but I feel in my heart that this is where Jesus is calling me. So here I am, even though I really don’t have a good answer for you.” Later I would learn the Gospel story of Peter. Peter was a fisherman, who lived with his wife in Capernaum. He shared a house with his mother-in-law and his brother, Andrew. They had their own boat and were friends with the Zebedee boys, James and John, Jesus called to them from the shore and said, “Would you like to change the world.” Jesus later asks Peter, "Who do YOU say that I am?” Peter said, “You’re the Christ," he said, "the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16: 15 -16). When Jesus spoke of being tortured and killed and on the third day raised again, Peter said, "God forbid, Lord. This shall never happen," and that's when Jesus said to him. "Get behind me, Satan" (Matthew 16:21-23). One day Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and tried to walk out on water, but he lost his nerve and began to sink. (Matthew 14:28-31). At their last supper, when Jesus started to wash the disciples' feet, it was Peter who protested--"You will never wash my feet!" "Listen, listen," Jesus said, "the cock won't crow till you've betrayed me three times" (John 13:36-38).
In today’s Gospel, Jesus goes to Peter’s favorite beach. He is a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, and Peter and his friends loved to cook some of their fish on a charcoal fire on the shore. Jesus stands at Peter’s happy place and calls out to him. When Peter figures out that it is his Risen Lord on the beach, he throws on his tunic, jumps off the boat, and swims to shore. Jesus asks him three times if he loves him and three times, Peter tells him that he loves him. Jesus then tells him to feed my sheep. If we are to launch the Kingdom of God here at St. John’s, let us begin with the words, “Here I am Lord” say the words, “You know that I love you, Lord” and let us end by following Jesus to the broken places in the world.
In Christ’s love,