Friday, 25 March 2016

Holy Week 2016: Thursday

I'm an insomniac. My wife can attest to this. There are advantages to being awake when the world around me is snoring quietly. The biggest is it gives me a lot of time to think.

Now being alone with your thoughts isn't always a good thing. I get set off down thought patterns which are ungodly and decidedly unhealthy sometimes. But most of the time it gives me a chance to then arrest those thoughts which, had they happened during the day, would have been left up in the air. Not being asleep gives me time to find my feet and take them to God, then let Him put my feet back on the Rock of Christ.

I like Peter in the Gospels. I can identify with him more than the others. Not because I expect to give a speech that brings thousands to Christ first time up - although I'm open to being used that way - but that's the Peter of Acts.

I'm talking about the Peter who opens his mouth to change feet. The guy who rebukes Jesus for suggesting the Cross was coming. Mr Swordsman in the garden. The guy who looks at the boat, looks at Jesus walking on the water, realises he's safer on the water with Jesus than sinking in the boat and then says "If it's you..."

Peter is the face-palm guy of the disciples. John may have been the Disciple Jesus Loved, but Peter was the one who probably got the title "the one who made his eyes roll" - and I love that about him. He's a very three dimensional character on paper. Peter in all the Gospels is portrayed with all his flaws intact. We remember "doubting" Thomas, but although he ran away, Thomas never denied knowing Jesus. Peter did.

Hang on a second...

Deep thought zone...

How do we know Peter denied Jesus? According to the stories he was alone, away from the others. Close enough to see what was happening with Jesus - more than we know about the others - but strangers talked to him and challenged him about knowing Christ.

How do we know about it?

None of the others were there to witness it. There's only one way: Peter told them himself.

Maybe it was at the beach when Jesus asks him about how much he loves Him. Perhaps we don't see Peter then explaining to the confused others why Jesus asked him 3 times.

But one thing we do know. The only way Peter denying Christ gets into the Gospels is by Peter admitting it.

Thursday of Holy Week is Peter's day. Jesus sees the 12 arguing about who the best of them is and wraps a towel round his waist, picks up the water and does the servant's job: He washes their feet. But it's more than just the servant's job. On the hierarchy of servants this guy is the one just below the bottom rung. His job is to wash the dirt, sand, camel-dung from the feet of the visitors. He probably wouldn't even make eye contact with them.

But there's Jesus. On His knees, washing feet.

Until He reaches Peter.

When He came to Simon Peter, he said to Him, “Lord, are You going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied to him, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but you will [fully] understand it later.” Peter said to Him, “You will never wash my feet!” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me [we can have nothing to do with each other].” (John 13:6-8 Amplified)
Peter is horrified about Jesus taking this role. But Jesus reaches him. Peter goes on and asks Jesus to was his head and hands as well. Jesus explains that His disciples are already clean.

We can assume that Peter then lets Jesus wash his feet. Jesus takes the feet that Peter regularly uses to fill his own mouth and washes them.

From the manger in a stable in Bethlehem to the upper room in Jerusalem has been about 30 years, and Jesus is still not above any station. His example clearly reaches Peter and it should still reach us.

So Thursday was Peter's day. He asked for a bath at the Last Supper then denied Jesus later that night before the rooster crowed.

We know something else about Peter from reading the rest of the book. He may have denied Jesus to save his own skin that night, but he never did again. He went back to the upper room. He sat with the others after the crucifixion, mourning. When the news of the empty tomb comes to them he runs to it to see. The Romans had posted guards at the tomb. If the women had been mistaken the guards would kill Peter as soon as look at him. Peter knows this. He runs.

A dignified Jew of the First Century didn't run. It was beneath him. It's something Jesus had highlighted in the story of the Prodigal Son, only this time it's the son who throws his dignity away and runs.

Peter received forgiveness from Jesus over breakfast on the beach.

I received it in my bedroom in 1985 when I first asked Jesus into my life properly, consciously.

I like Peter.

I can identify with him.

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