Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Peter's Primacy

One of my favourite spots in the Holy Land is that little piece of shore beside Lake Galilee known as Peter's Primacy.  It is a little piece of pebbly beach beside the lake, with a small chapel beside it.  This is particularly noted as being the site where Jesus met the disciples after the resurrection and where he shared breakfast with them, the story that is reflected in John 21.  We were reminded that for Jesus everything starts with prayer and that for Jesus everything ends with God.  Jesus was trying to change minds and hearts which is never an easy task but he attempted it with great patience. Jesus went to meet people and to heal some of them, but it is interesting that for the disciples this is not a pure act. Jesus is dealing with the ex-communicated, but for Jesus no one is out. The disciples saw him as doing something against the Bible - you didn’t touch these things, as they were unclean - and so they needed time to digest what is happening.  But Jesus says 'you are not slaves, you are friends'.  He brings everyone together.

Jesus turns things round.  While they were looking for fish - the disciples, particularly Peter, having gone out fishing, - the risen Jesus became the chef and then, of course, after the meal, Jesus said to Simon “Simon, son of John”  Notice that he doesn’t give him any title.  He doesn’t call him 'Peter' which means that he is no longer being referred to as the rock, and Jesus asks him about his love.

There are four degrees of love, love of mother for child, love of husband and wife for each other, friendship (in Greek "phileo")  and the purest kind of love (agape).  This last is the most generous kind of love - and so Jesus says to Peter, “Simon do you "agape" me?” and Simon answer “I "phileo" you”.  Jesus then asked again “Simon do you "agape" me?” and Simon answers the same way “I "phileo" you”.  Then Jesus moves to Simon’s level and asks “Simon do you "phileo" me?” and he then gives Simon the command, "follow me".

At this site we were able to go down right beside the lake and put our hand in the lake.  We were also able to go into the little chapel there which has a rock in it which is reputedly the table that they used for that particular breakfast. There is also a statue commemorating the conversation between Jesus and Simon.

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