Epiphany 3, 2024

Christ continues to gather people. We heard him gather Philip and Nathaniel this past Sunday. This week he gathers the core of His apostolic band: Peter, Andrew, James, and John. These men will form the center of many of the stories we have of Jesus interacting with people. The Gospel writers will use them as a sort of stock character, a foolish disciples who needs to be taught by the master. I would argue that there are two purposes for this. One is simply narrative. By tagging along as Jesus instructs a rather block-headed Peter, we get to listen to Jesus explain some very important things. But the second reason is theological. Jesus is not just a really smart guy, a wiser man than most, He is God. Of course the disciples were flummoxed by him and we are too. By having Peter and the rest of the disciples stumble about as they try to sort out this Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John give us permission to be confused, unsure, even baffled by what we encounter in the Christ.

There is a third function happening there, one which probably worked better in the first century but can still work for us. The readers of those four Gospel accounts would have known these disciples or at least been contemporaries of them. They knew folks who knew them, had heard them preach, etc. we know from reading the later letters/sermons which they wrote, that Peter and John both became profound theologians. They possessed keen insights into the nature of God and what He did through Jesus. Yes, we can credit the Holy Spirit for much of that, but there is also something to be said that they were able to learn. They did learn. We will not always be confounded by Jesus. He is light and shines in us. That is a good thing to say as well. Knowing Jesus means we know Him better all the time.

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