Friday, April 19, 2013

P is for Peter and Q is for Quirinius

Sorry for the double post again.  I had a bit of a crisis yesterday with graduate school stuff.

Peter is one of the best know disciples of Jesus and one of Jesus "inner circle.
Peter's actual name was Simon and Peter was a sort of nickname.  He joins Jesus in Matthew 4 while fishing with his brother Andrew.  They leave their nets and follow Jesus.  We know that Peter was married because in Matthew 8, Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law.
In Matthew 14, Jesus walks on the water to his disciples who are in a boat.  Peter asks Jesus if he can come walk on the water too and Jesus grants his request. Peter starts walking but is afraid and begins to sink.  Jesus has to rescue him.
Peter is also present at the transfiguration of Jesus.  This is when Jesus shows part of his true glory and Moses and Elijah appear.  Peter, however, is so overwhelmed that he says “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  The book of Mark adds a note saying that Peter doesn't really know what he's saying, he's just frightened. 
When Jesus is arrested, Peter springs into action, cutting off the ear of one of the high priest's servants.  Jesus rebukes him for this and heals the man.  Despite this show of bravery for Jesus, Peter turns coward not hours later, denying Jesus three times.  However, unlike Judas, who felt his betrayal of Christ warranted suicide, Peter wept bitter tears and repented.

Peter was one of the first disciples (he went with John) at the tomb of Jesus when it was discovered that it was empty.  Later when Jesus makes his post-resurrection appearances, he reinstates Peter.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. (John 21: 15-19)

After Jesus ascended to heaven, Peter became one of the driving forces in the early Christian church, starting with a rousing speech on Pentecost. 

Tradition says that Peter was crucified upside down.  There's no definitive proof of this, however, we do know that he was killed for his faith, just as Jesus prophesied.


Like a good little Lutheran schoolgirl, every year at Christmas, I would recite the Christmas account found in Luke 2.  I've had this memorized for like 20 years now and I'm pretty sure I can type it out now from memory:

In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world (this was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria).

When you're 6 years old and memorizing this, you find that Quirinius is not the easiest name to pronounce.  Why would God even mention this guy anyway?  It's not like he provides any significance.  Or does he?

This caused a quandary with Bible scholars because Quirinius didn't start ruling until like 5 A.D. and Jesus was born about 4 B.C.  Scholars have come up with two solutions.  One is that Quirinius may have been a high enough official in Syria even before his official governorship.  The second is that the Greek of Luke can also be interpreted to say "before" instead of "while."  You an read a more in depth article here.

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