A challenge for modern readers of Scripture is knowing how to read historical narratives, and specifically ones that contain conversations between Jesus and people. I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb to suggest and suspect that two Christians might understand the same passage differently, and that their differences are rooted in their perceptions of who Jesus is.

Take for instance the account of Peter walking on water. (Matthew 14:22-32) I encourage you to go read the text. My question is this – how do you hear Jesus in verse 31? Is he angry? Sad? Irritated? Frustrated? What is his tone? And upon what do you base your answer? Do you root it in how you would respond if you had been Jesus or in how others have responded to you in similar situations when you took a leap of faith and came up short (and which you now project on to Jesus)? Do you base it on a view of a Jesus who is generally cranky and short-tempered? Or do you base it on the Jesus we have been studying this month, and whose birth we celebrated two days ago? How you answer this question and how you perceive Jesus makes all the difference in how you hear him in the pages of Scripture.

Now, you may choose to disagree with me, but it’s my understanding that Jesus’ approach with Peter was tender as he was a man he loved deeply, a man he wanted to see grow and develop in faith, a man he was for and of whom he was a fan! I think Jesus’ words to Peter were like those of a coach who wants one of his star players to understand why he got the play wrong. I think Jesus’ words to Peter were an invitation to process with him (Jesus) what was going on in Peter so that he could learn and grow from the account. I think Jesus was loving, kind and tender with Peter.

But what do you think? Do you hear what I hear?

Scott Smith
Pastor of Discipleship Ministries

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