main point –
The main point seems to be that Peter denied Jesus three times by the cock crow. John differs from the other gospels by separating the first denial and sandwiching other material between it and this passage. All four canonical gospels depict this — so I gather it to be significant. A strong tradition which the early church felt needed to be preserved. In John alone will a three-fold forgiveness undo this in the resurrection. Another difference: the Synoptics depict a sudden flash of awareness in Peter at the sound of the crow. Peter realizes he has fulfilled his Master’s prophesy and weeps. John remains silent on this.
new light –
No new light as such. New questions. Why is this story important for the first Christians to preserve? I don’t know.
Following George Fox’s instructions on how to read scriptures — cited in his journal — I take Peter with his denial into myself and ask how I am like Peter.
I am Peter — I do not own Christ when put to the test. An atheist co-worker and I have a number of discussions on religion fairly regularly. Last night he introduced me to his wife as the guy trying to convert him — I denied it.
I brooded on it later. We saw our discussions differently I suppose. I was not witnessing to him — I have been careful to point out the limitations of faith and religion in my conversations and have not been trying to win him over or win the argument. I have tried to — always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15) but fail even in that — I equivocate.
My sense of the complexity of truth and the ambiguity present in matters of faith is stronger than my certitude — there is perhaps more of Socrates than Jesus in me.
Perhaps in the resurrection Jesus will confront me for each time I could have witnessed and instead was silent — and each time Christ will commission me and forgive.
In the meanwhile — like Peter — I will need to be faithful as I can and not as I cannot.
I feel no stop in my mind with this passage and that is itself a problem. Some bible stories are so familiar they no longer challenge us to faithfulness. They offer no problem as we can no longer read them for the first time.