Monday, February 28, 2011

Who Do You Say That I Am?

“But you.  Who do you say that I am?”

Simon’s eyes had been studying the ground at his feet.  Until now the conversation had been distant and abstract to him.  He had little care for the masses’ political or religious theories of who this man was.  He could not care less if people thought that Elijah or Jeremiah had risen from their metaphorical graves or that John the Baptist had found his head again.  This man, before anything else, was simply the closest friend he ever had.  He also knew he was much more than a good friend to a boozing fisherman.  He was something more, something distinct, something exceptional.

They played a part, but the miracles hadn’t proven this to him.  It wasn’t the sermons he gave, or the crowds of people who pushed and screamed just to get a handful of his cloak.  It was something much more elemental.  It was how he held the withered hand of a man worth nothing, how he held it as if he’d made the man himself.  It was how he’d looked at that mess of a woman he’d met at the well, and spoken to her as if she were his own daughter.  It was how he had looked into Simon’s own eyes, that first day they met, and said with unnerving simplicity, “Follow me.”

It was written in his eyes.  It was murmured beneath his every action.  It was palpable in an unearthly love, frightening in its boundlessness.  Being near him was like standing at the foot of a mountain, like staring down from the edge of a cliff.

Who do you say that I am?

The question hung in silence in the air around them.  They were sure of who the crowds thought he was, but who was he to them?   A symbol of the coming revolution?  An escape from an average life?  A means to an end?  

Who do you say that I am?

Simon’s gaze kept hold of the ground as he broke the silence, his imposing frame still as a boulder, his voice small and simple.  “You are the Christ,” he said.  “The Son of the Living God.”  When he raised his eyes to meet the Master’s, gravity stole tears from his eyelids.

Jesus held Simon’s eyes with his own, and smiled.  He placed his hands on Simon’s shoulders.

“Bless you, Simon son of Jonah.  Flesh and blood hasn’t revealed this to you.  All these things that you can see and touch haven’t shown you this.  My heavenly Father has.  He’s whispered it in your ear and you’ve heard him speak.”

Water brimmed in the Messiah’s eyes.  He had often spoken of a kingdom.  Here, in the circle of his closest friends, someone finally understood its rule.

There were mutterings arising, whispered thoughts about who would be the right-hand-man when the revolution happened.  Soon there would be open arguing.  Simon never bothered with them.  He never thought himself worthy of such lofty positions anyway.  He was just a man with a chip on his shoulder the size of Mount Sinai, who was letting love carve it into something beautiful.  Somehow this wreck of a working man understood that at the heart of this Kingdom was a King, the heart of that King was Love, and this Love was standing before him.  A man changed as Simon was would remember that, now and forever.

Jesus, standing almost an inch shorter than this human mountain, smiled up at him.

“So I say this to you, my dear, close friend: I’ve been calling you The Boulder...”

Simon smirked abashedly.  Jesus squeezed his shoulder.

“...but this isn’t just a nickname.  It’s your true name.  You are Peter, the Rock, the Boulder, and on this Rock I will build my community of love, my people of the Kingdom.”

Peter did not look away.

“The kingdom of darkness and death shall never be able to withstand it, Peter.  You will storm its gates with love, and those gates will fall beneath your feet.  

“I trust you, Peter.  I trust you as Pharaoh trusted Joseph.  When the time comes, I’ll hand you my signet ring and entrust you with the keys to Heaven’s Kingdom.  Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.”

Peter shuddered a little, like a man before a mountain, like a man at the edge of a cliff.

No comments: