Monday, May 25, 2009

second and third chances (John 21)

In one of the most humiliating moments of his life, Peter found himself inside the courtyard of the temple. After violently resisting[1] the arrest of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter followed the mob at a discrete distance. At the courtyard, a disciple "who was known to the High Priest"[2] spoke to the gatekeeper and secured admission for Peter. He's inside, it's a chilly night, folks are jostling one another around a charcoal fire -- and someone recognizes the interloper as one of the condemned man's associates. Three times, Peter denies the association. Then, three things happened:
  • The cock crows
  • Jesus looks at Peter
  • Peter remembers our Lord's prophecy that Peter would deny him three times.
Peter gives up whatever hare-brained schemes he'd been entertaining, flees the premises, and weeps bitterly.

In today's reading, for some reason Peter and company have gone back to their hometown, and their earlier occupation. Once again, they see the risen Jesus Christ on the shore in the light of early dawn. Jesus is catering breakfast for these men who have been working all night. After the meal, Peter and Jesus have an interesting conversation:
Joh 21:15 Yemekten sonra İsa, Simun Petrus'a, "Yuhanna oğlu Simun, beni bunlardan daha çok seviyor musun?" diye sordu. Petrus, "Evet, ya Rab" dedi, "Seni sevdiğimi bilirsin." İsa ona, "Kuzularımı otlat" dedi.
Joh 21:16 İkinci kez yine ona, "Yuhanna oğlu Simun, beni seviyor musun?" diye sordu. O da, "Evet, ya Rab, seni sevdiğimi bilirsin" dedi. İsa ona, "Koyunlarımı güt" dedi.
Joh 21:17 Üçüncü kez ona, "Yuhanna oğlu Simun, beni seviyor musun?" diye sordu. Petrus kendisine üçüncü kez, "Beni seviyor musun?" diye sormasına üzüldü. "Ya Rab, sen her şeyi bilirsin, seni sevdiğimi de bilirsin" dedi. İsa ona, "Koyunlarımı otlat" dedi.
Let's look at a few words:
  • Yemekten sonra -- Than eating / after. Turkish frequently tacks the "ablative" (away from) ending onto an infinitive verb, in this case yemek (to eat), to describe relationships.
  • beni bunlardan daha çok seviyor musun -- me / than these / more / much / loving / do you?
  • Kuzularımı otlat -- my lambs / feed
Turkish, like English, uses the same verb for love in all three questions. In the Greek, however, the conversation goes more like this:
Peter, do you love me? ( ἀγαπᾷς με; )
Lord, you know I'm your friend. (φιλῶ σε )
Peter, do you love me?
Lord, you know I'm your friend.
Peter, are you my friend?
Lord, you know all things, you know I'm your friend.
After three denials, Peter had the opportunity to make three affirmations. Thank God for second chances.


[1] Since Peter sliced off the servant's right ear, he was evidently a left-handed man trying to whack off the guy's head. A few years ago, when Peter's alleged tomb in Rome was investigated by archeologists, the skeleton they examined was that of a strongly-built left-handed man.

[2] There is some evidence in his writings that John was of a priestly family, and was thoroughly acquainted with the rituals and the routines of the Temple. OTOH, the only disciple who we are told in scripture had personal dealings with the High Priest was -- Judas. Who did, we know, make at least one return visit to return the blood money.

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