By Colleen O’Sullivan
“… all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name, this man stands before you healed. He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. (Acts 4:10-11)
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord.” (John 21:12)
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the Lord has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes. (Psalm 118:22-23)
Someone asked me the other day how I came to be where I am. I fell to thinking about the journey I’ve been on these last few years. It boggles even my mind to realize the distance I’ve come. You see, I used to be content working with my father and brother fishing. It’s what my father’s father did and his father before him. I just followed in their footsteps. I liked fishing, still do. I loved my family, spending the day with them out on our boat.
Neither Andrew nor I were great scholars. We knew the basics of the Scriptures, but our family had no money for education beyond the basics. They needed us to help put food on the table. There was never any discussion of us studying at the feet of any rabbi. We simply took up fishing with our dad. I found a beautiful woman and married her, and I needed the money to support her and the kids who came along.
Although we spent most of our time out on the water, casting our nets for fish, my brother and I found time to go out into the desert once in a while to hear that preacher everyone was talking about, John the Baptist. He was always talking about someone greater than he who was coming into the world.
Sure enough, one day this fellow Jesus, whom John talked about at every turn, showed up as we were unloading our boat. He stood there watching us for a while and then we began to talk. There was something about him that struck me. Maybe it was his enthusiasm or his zest for life, but I liked him from the moment I met him. When he invited us to follow him, promising to make us fishers of men, I was intrigued. I think even my dad would like to have tagged along, but he said someone needed to keep up the fishing business, so he stayed back while my brother and I followed Jesus.
I’ve never done anything like that in my entire life, but there was something extraordinary about Jesus. He looked so sure of himself and so full of life. I wanted to know how he got that way.
Little did I know where the journey would lead. At first, it was exciting. Jesus had a healing touch. He even healed my mother-in-law of a fever one night! Everywhere we went (and more people began to journey with us as time went on) crowds began to gather. I never knew there were so many sick and crippled people in the world. Everyone wanted to be made whole.
After a while, though, I began to feel an undercurrent of danger. Not everybody liked Jesus. The scribes and the Pharisees particularly seemed to hate him. Maybe they saw the crowds flocking to Jesus every place we went. Maybe they realized that more people wanted to see and hear Jesus than wanted anything to do with them. They began laying traps, trying to get Jesus to say something they could arrest him for, but he always had some comeback to which they had no answer.
About now, Jesus began to talk with us in a more serious manner. He always wanted to know what people were saying about him, who they thought he was. He was the most special person I’ve ever known. I wondered if maybe, just maybe, he was the one we had been waiting for. So, one day when he asked who we thought he was, I blurted out, “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” I had it right, but, boy, did I have it all wrong at the same time.
A suffering Messiah wasn’t anything I had ever envisioned. I protested the notion that my friend Jesus should ever suffer, and Jesus yelled at me. He called me Satan! I was so upset and ashamed! But there was a lot I didn’t understand.
Jesus had a final meal with the 12 of us. Before we ate, he wanted to wash our feet. My feet are the ugliest, dirtiest part of me and there was no way the man whom I worshiped was going to wash them, but again I completely misunderstood what Jesus was trying to do. I made an utter fool of myself.
I wish I could say I was a faithful friend. I wanted to be. Jesus even predicted that I would betray him. I had every intention of being the best friend in the world, but when the trouble really started, with Judas betraying our leader, I found myself shivering with fear. They took him to the high priest’s courtyard, where the mood was deadly. And, so, before I knew it, out of fear I had denied three times ever knowing my friend. He looked over at me at one point with love and compassion, and that made me feel even worse.
I wanted to die when I realized what I had done. I went home. I despised myself, but I didn’t have the courage to go back. He was crucified the next day. I couldn’t watch. I thought the world, my world, anyway, had come to an end.
Even later, when some of the others said he had risen from the dead, I couldn’t lose that feeling of self-loathing and shame. I desperately wanted to see him and, at the same time, I couldn’t imagine ever looking him in the eye again.
So it was with trepidation that I approached the shore that morning when we gave up on fishing and then saw the Lord himself making breakfast for us. But my utter failure as a friend never came up. In fact, Jesus wanted to walk with me. I realized that he knew how remorseful I was. Even more, I saw that my denials of him hadn’t stopped him from loving me and forgiving me.
I am a transformed man. I know I am a sinner, but I also know the power of God’s love poured out on me through the trust and friendship of his Son. Where before I was timid and afraid, the Holy Spirit has strengthened me.
The powers that be can seize me or arrest me, but they will never shake the foundation of my faith, which is my friend and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Only death will ever silence me. I want to heal and forgive in the name of Jesus! I want to tell the whole universe about this Messiah who turned the world upside down!
My family can hardly believe the change. I am aglow with my love for Jesus Christ, and I cannot contain that love. I want to tell the story so that every person will see him the way I do. Jesus, I love you, and I will proclaim you as the cornerstone of our faith as long as there is breath in my body.
Spend some time today prayerfully reflecting on your own faith journey. Are there any similarities to Peter’s journey?