Tuesday, March 18, 2014

John 18:12-27

This passage occurs in the Narrative Lectionary, Year 4 Lenten cycle, most recently March 23, 2015
The RCL text for this week, focusing on the woman at the well, may be found here:

Summary:  This is a haunting and challenging passage for all of us.  Jesus is being smacked in the face while Peter warms himself by a fire, denying Jesus.  There is much law in this passage:  How do we deny his lordship in our lives?  But there is much Gospel too -- Jesus redeems Peter, in fact, he recreates the scene for Peter in John 21.

Some key words
η παιδισκη η θυρωρος ("servant girl, the gate keeper," 18:17)  John sets up an amazing juxtaposition here.  Peter is asked a question by a simple peasant child and he offers denial.  Jesus is interrogated by the chief priest's father in law, surrounded by armed men.   Even after having his face slapped, Jesus remains defiant; Peter is scared before any violence has been enacted.  Ironically, Jesus tells them to ask those who have heard his words to serve as a witness (21:9).  Peter is the first witness and fails...at least this time.

ανθρακια  ("anthracite coal," 18).  This minor detail is set beautifully within John's Gospel.  Where will Peter be forgiven?  At the breakfast coal fire (same word; the ONLY other time it appears in the whole Bible).  Jesus goes right to the spot of Peter's denial to forgive Peter.  He recreates the scene to forgive and redeem Peter!

ουκ ειμι ("I am not", 18:17)  Peter twice says "I am not."  This can be part of the statement "I am not a disciple."  But existentially, Peter is saying something even more.  He is nothing.  When push comes to shove, he is nothing.  He has denied Christ and in doing so, has denied himself of everything.  Of course he is cold.

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