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Posts Tagged ‘Luke’

By all reckoning, it should have been the end of Peter’s story.

Like Judas, he might have hanged himself. Or turned recluse. Or lurched in his bitterness towards Stockholm Syndrome, throwing in his lot with Jesus’ taunters.

And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61–62 ESV)

A text familiar with tears and their descriptors takes special care to characterize Peter’s particular kind of weeping. ‘He went out and wept bitterly.’

Nothing is left for Peter, even if Jesus‘ life might stagger on for a few more hours before the killing is over.

Indeed Luke’s narrative never pauses to allow a polite space for Peter’s grief. Hurrying on from Jesus’ and Peter’s fateful locking of glances, he reports:

Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’ And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him. (Luke 22:63–65 ESV)

But Peter is ended.

His credibility gone, his soul crushed by his own unforeseen betrayal of this man for whom he had vowed to die, what can possibly become of this once audacious follower of Jesus, whom the text now with increasing frequency calls simply ‘the Lord’?

Yet, stunningly, Peter is not over.

The events unfolding before eyes that have perhaps read them too quickly, too often, would produce more than one resurrection from the dead. Peter, the New Testament will lead us to understand, had a future, indeed a complex, contentious, and fruitful one.

Nor does the resurrection count end at just two.

For we are all Peter ended, capable of the unthinkable and often its very perpetrators, shattered by our own weak hand.

Yet we are all potentially Peter remade, remembering our nadir not as our end, but rather our beginning.

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It is probably impossible for us credibly to imagine Jesus’ solitude in the garden called Gethsemane.

As his heart and mind writhed in agony before his impending execution and the lived experience of abandonment by his Father, his friends, too, deserted him for sleep. (more…)

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Sometimes those closest to Jesus understand nothing, while someone with no ‘Jesus history’ comprehends immediately. It has always been so.

Jesus explains to his disciples that Jerusalem, their portentous destination, holds out for him no obvious good:

And taking the twelve, he said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.’ (Luke 18:31–33 ESV)

(more…)

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A kind of self-oriented religiosity craves a formula.

We want a rule, a predictable sequence, a guaranteed outcome.

Admittedly, the Christian message is, from one angle of view, simple. Its redeeming beauty hides behind no intellectual prerequisite, no gate-keeping aesthetic sensitivity, no necessary spiritual predisposition. It’s the walking wounded, the drooling madman, the self-loathing sinner who seizes its promise before the sophisticate can get past his first reflexive sneer. (more…)

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Rational calculation, as we know it, is of limited value in assessing life’s larger moves.

Take Jesus’ parables about people, animals, and things that have gone missing. He intends to speak, of course, about his Father’s love. Such stories are not permeated by the sentimental, but neither do they hew to the mathematics of evaluation. (more…)

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Jesus rarely made things easy.

He forced upon his hearers choices they would rather have avoided. When he found that a kind of celebrity had attached itself to him, he faced down the crowds with a kind of rhetorical fury that must have been only partially offset by the love in his voice.

The gushing of the masses appears to have represented a kind of threat. In the face of it, he said the damnedest things. (more…)

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Our mind is shaped by a culture that privileges experience and feeling above all other windows into reality.

We no longer even say, with the writers of love songs, ‘It feels so good it must be real’. We are content if it simply feels good, with no further questions asked. (more…)

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