Peter and Paul, and Jesus’s call to “Follow me.” A few days ago I pondered, “to follow Jesus do my feet need to move?” The quiz revolved around following in terms of entourage, or following philosophically. To rephrase it is following a corpus, or the teachings. Peter and Paul are an example. Peter, the disciple who walked and talked, and dined, and sailed, and questioned the LORD for several years before Jesus’s Passion, death, resurrection, and ascension. Paul, the follower who heard the voice from heaven “Why are you persecuting Me? “Two different experiences. One followed with sandals to the sand, and the other with eyes to the sky. Both followed the LORD, but in different ways. Peters discipleship I will not experience, Paul’s is up or debate. Peter, from the Baptism of the LORD through the Ascension, Paul’s an Easter disciple. Both followers of Christ.
Both these Apostles are a study in contrasts. Peters walking with the LORD versus Paul’s conversion to the LORD is but one example. Peter, a Jew as was Paul. Peter delivered Christ’s message to a Jewish population in Rome. With his congregation there is a cultural continuity, they knew where Jesus the Christ came from. Paul however, preached to the pagan gentiles. With him is a great cultural divide. The gentile gods were alien and numerous, Paul had to explain the God of Israel and His only begotten Son to a people of an entirely different tradition. With them there was limited knowledge of David, or Moses, or the covenant. Peters flock started their experience with these Old Testament figures. Their introduction to Christianity was through Judaism, Paul’s students started their journey with the pagan deities of Greece and Rome. A contrast and a challenge. The challenge though, helped define the Christ Paul taught. That is the Jesus Christ that was passed down to me.
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply…
His challenges of bringing Jesus to the Gentiles influenced Peter too. With the questions brought about by the gentile converts, Peter had to reevaluate the Judaism styled Christianity Peter inherited. For them to answer Christ’s “Follow Me” required that they reexamine the spiritual roadmaps they referenced.” To follow” as to choose the path of Christ. Surprisingly that path was forged through the differences of cultures, the truth of Christ was found in each. Obstacles also were common to each. Christ was not Peter’s victory, or Paul’s. Christ was the victory of both, it was the Church they became members of; and that Church was influenced by the unique gifts brought by each of its members.
I want you to know, brothers and sisters,
that the Gospel preached by me is not of human origin.
For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it,
but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Peter emphasizes the foundation of Christ’s teachings. Few knew the LORD as well as Peter. Paul brought the questions of the LORDS flock, and his pagan congregation certainly must have asked the most questions. They also were the most likely to be misled by unscrupulous leaders. They emphasized the need for truth in teaching the gospel, and Peter with Paul prayed constantly that the Holy Spirit deliver that truth. One can’t forget that before Paul was a Christian, he was a persecutor of Christians. In his battles with the LORD, the LORD indeed was the victor. Saint Thomas’s doubts come to mind, first his stubborn disbelief and then his proclamation of faith. “My LORD and my GOD.” Paul’s Apostleship is a proclamation of faith. Such was the conversion he preached, and his preaching was filled with passion. Fitting that their feast is celebrated together, Peter the rock anchored in a personal knowledge of the LORD. Paul the convert with a zeal for bringing Christ to others