As I was reading, and writing an essay that I hope will be published, my mind kept going to the final chapter of John’s gospel. While I was hearing various people talking about current events in the entertainment world, my meditation continued.
At this point, John and Peter have a little talk. Peter is of course feeling rather ashamed of himself, for he proved himself a disloyal follower. At Jesus’ time of trouble, Peter turned his back upon his master, yet Jesus asks him to tend the flocks… how except by the grace of God is it possible to rise from coward to a shepherd that lays down his own life?
It seems quite normal that as the discussion continues, Peter tries to pull the talk away from himself and to another disciple. Jesus questions this by saying: “What is that to you, YOU follow me.” It is very human to divert attention when we are ashamed and vulnerable. Though we all can pray
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
Every one of us stands where Peter stood, talking to Christ… when we look at the virtue or the sin of others, and try to compare it is really none of our business. Earlier in John we learn that all judgment is given to the Son — not even the Father judges… and we do not have that responsibility either. The more I worked to write, and the more I heard talking, the more I realized that this truth is forgotten… it is as if we prove our piety by pronouncing judgment without a care for the individual, but instead for our own pride.
The passage ends in a very strange way. John has a completeness about it… as a whole, it presents Jesus Christ as the revelation of the Divine. The Christian faith, taught by John is a faith that Jesus is the ultimate Word of God — He is Divine Revelation in a way that nothing else can be. John begins: “In the beginning was the word…” and it ends… “there are many other things that Jesus did. If every one of them were written down, I suppose the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (NET) Christ is not only presented as revelation, but revelation beyond the potential of all the books the would could contain.
As I think of this in relation to my faith — I wonder, how can I learn from Jesus’ instructions to Peter? How can I learn forgiveness, to see beyond past failures, and to show Christ without judging in pride. In addition to these things, I wonder how I can grow in Christianity. I happen to love books… though I might debate the meanings of words and the intentions of the author — I do not engage much in the debate of actual text… if I appeal to a revelation beyond all that is written, all the words in the human language could not express it adequately. I must, be humble, and accept that as much as I try, there is much I do not understand. With others, I pray for God’s help, wisdom, and guidance.