Thursday, April 7, 2016

Brothers again

ἀγαπᾷς?
φιλῶ

ἀγαπᾷς?
φιλῶ

φιλεῖς?
φιλῶ

Without going back into my Aland Gospel Parallels in Greek and English with its footnotes that guide to ancient manuscript variances, I cannot say for sure. Even so, I am never sure, because certainty is the greatest sin; and besides, the autograph of John 21 has gone to dust or centuries ago kindled some primitive fire, so we’ll never know. But I think Jesus’ illusive final conversation with Peter, to which our English language limitation fails justice, and apparently so does even Luther Bibel 1545 "hast du mich lieb?", is the most moving three verses in the entire Bible. The story is a post-resurrection appearance. From the grave, Jesus has returned to his friends, to those who in his earthly life he loved the most -- and that even though they betrayed, denied and abandoned him. His returning nevertheless, notwithstanding, anyway, and in-spite-of is itself the single greatest possible epiphany of God’s love for us and of Jesus’ forgiveness of his apostles, even Peter. Yes, even Judas Iscariot had he been there on the beach that morning. Even you. God help me, even me.

But the three verses are even more sublime. Jesus has breakfast with the man who throughout history will be known as Jesus’ trusted friend who showed the white feather, turned tail spineless and gutless when Jesus needed him most. In the film The Passion of the Christ the scene in which Jesus turns and looks at Peter after his final denial, the look on both men’s faces will haunt me to my grave. But on this morning Heilsgeschichte is completed, it is truly finished, all things restored to the perfection of Eden. Here’s my rendition of just the red letters, and Peter’s black.

Simon Johnson, are you my neighbor?
Lord, I am your brother.

Simon Johnson, are you my neighbor?
Lord, I am your brother.

Simon Johnson, are you my brother?
Lord, I am your brother.

Breaking down into sobs of emotion beyond words, the two fall on each other’s necks, in tears that wash away all tension and doubt forever. Grace has returned and restored all things.

DThos+ 

still mucking along through +Time+

hast du mich lieb?

This is as personal as forgiveness, restoration, resurrection and Easter can be.



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