Crunch time

They all looked to him – Peter knew that. And he was glad. They needed someone to look to, one of them, that is. They all looked to Jesus of course. But of the twelve – he was the man.
To be honest, Peter sometimes wondered what Jesus saw in some of the others. OK, they tagged along, they took the risks if they had to. They were faithful in their own way. But what did they actually bring to the group? They didn’t know where to stand, that was the truth. Jesus had to tell them every minute. And they still didn’t get it!
Well, Peter mused, that was Jesus down to a tee. He had to do things the hard way – the ‘right way’. And Peter bought into that. If Jesus didn’t know the right way, who did? But you couldn’t make it much harder than dragging around a bunch of dunce fishermen from the Galilee. Peter knew that from bitter experience.
One of them? Never. Peter was never like them. He understood them, but they would never understand him. He had learned to keep his ideas to himself over the sun-baked, Sea-drenched years in Galilee. Now he had someone who really knew him, someone they all had to listen to. Someone who showed them he was different, he was Peter, man of the Rock, and he mattered.
Perhaps that’s what kindled Peter’s anger as they paced the dark Jerusalem alleys on route to the Mount of Olives, stomachs full of Passover lamb, a better feed than Peter had expected for a very long time. One out of the bag – typical Jesus, again. Just what you least expected. But now this: ‘you will all desert me’.
All? That made Peter just like the rest, just one of the motley gang.
Of course they would desert Jesus. They didn’t know their top from their tail, one moment to the next. But he did. He knew where this whole thing was at and he was ready. He didn’t understand it but he was ready. Something was going down, something big. Sure, Jesus often said crazy things, but the last few days had been different. And tonight – some of the talk was pretty heavy. “Better were it for that man if he had never been born…” Peter shuddered – whoever that was, he didn’t want to know. Then again maybe he should know? It was his responsibility, probably.
They all looked to him, and time was ticking. One by one they were coming to the same conclusion – Peter knew no more about these strange sayings, or what was ahead, than the rest of them. It was just another crazy night with Jesus, but the food was a whole lot better, and the wine… If they hadn’t been walking they would all have been asleep by now.
Peter silently fumed. He remembered another time he disagreed with Jesus. “Get behind me, Satan.” It was enough to make the others know they never wanted to be in Peter’s shoes, even if he did get special treatment sometimes. Right then Peter could have left. But instead he had grown, his roots had gone deeper, slowly his singed branches had budded again. Once, though, was enough. When he felt rage knot his chest he bit his lip, and sure enough, in the course of time, Jesus untangled that knot and Peter was glad he had kept his mouth shut.
Right now though he was singed bad enough already. “They would all desert Jesus” – and Peter had nothing to say? His silence condemned him. The blanket of shame covered them all, faceless in their weakness.
“Though all men will be offended because of you, yet will I never be offended.”
No sooner had the words left Peter’s mouth than he knew it would cost him. He just couldn’t hold back, it was like the words came out by themselves. He hadn’t even known what he was going to say till he said it. Thinking on it though, that pretty much summed it up. He was ready – for something – and whatever happened, he wouldn’t turn tail on Jesus. And he wouldn’t let Jesus forget that one of them was different. He was Peter, and whatever was coming, he was different and they would all know it. Crunch time.

Looking back, it was hard to know how it happened. Judas, of course. That he should have seen. But then Jesus did keep company with the least likely types, Judas was just another one, not by any means the worst to be honest. But he should have known.
But then, himself. He had fought to stay true to his word. Yet in hindsight every step he took had led down the path of betrayal. He had walked it like a dumb animal to the trap, oblivious. Peter, Peter, Peter. Ha! What a joke. Peter the special one. Specially stupid, that was all. He was different alright. At least the others had known their lot and accepted it. Were they the worse for that? What more could you really, ever do with Jesus? All Peter had earned for himself was a doubly shameful part in the whole debacle.
It all made sense now, why Jesus had chosen them. The others, that is. Simple, supple clay, that’s what they were. Good earthy clay, soft to the Maker’s hands. Jesus’ words lodged deep in them, skirting their misunderstanding minds to sink deep in their good, earthy hearts. And they were not lost. Peter could see it now – those words would spring up in time, everything was as Jesus planned. But where was he, Peter?
Peter’s clay was lumpy, full of smart ideas. Full of himself. Full of stones – ha! Stones, from Peter of the Rock. In the end he had made a better Simon than Peter.
They had no need of him now. Finally it was settled. All his striving, his rage. He was different, yes. And he didn’t belong. One Shepherd was all this flock needed. He wouldn’t make a fuss of it, but no doubt his path would lead away, and he wouldn’t resist. All those big ideas, some special seat for himself, Jesus’ right hand man – everyone could see now what that was about. Judas the betrayer, and Peter not far behind. So much for that.

“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?”
“Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”
“Feed my lambs.”
“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”
“Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”
“Feed my sheep.”
“Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”
“Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.”
“Feed my sheep.”

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