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But – let a storyteller walk into the room and all of us will perk up our ears and listen in great interest.
“There I was,” the storyteller would say, “Stationed on the aircraft carrier Yorktown. It had been badly damaged but we limped our way out of Pearl Harbor after being pieced back together. I took off on the morning of June 7th and flew above the clouds until I reached a break in the cloud cover. All of a sudden, I looked down and saw the whole cotton pickin’ Jap Fleet. My whole squadron started dive-bombing the ships. I dove on one and dropped a bomb on them just like they had done to us back at Pearl. I looked back and saw the ship in flames and I knew right then, we were going to save the Island of Midway!”
John is that kind of storyteller. In our New Testament lesson he tells us a story that ALL Gospel writers record. But John remembers it in such wonderfully vivid detail. For he was there>
Other Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell us the facts, the details.
Peter was at the courtyard waiting for the trial of Jesus to end.
A maid comes up and asks, “Aren’t you a disciple?”
Peter denies it.
He is asked again.
Again he denies it.
A third time he is asked.
A third time he denies it.
Then a rooster crows and Peter remembers the prophetic words of Christ, who told Peter that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed.
Matthew, Mark and Luke all have the details of this event as second hand information. They tell the event with the cold hard facts. John comes along, and with the skill of a storyteller, says, “There we were…”
Both John and Peter were with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when Judas, leading a group of Roman soldiers and Jewish Temple guards came. It was the classic lynch mob that John describes: “they were armed and carried lanterns and torches.” When face to face with Jesus, they admit that they have come for him.
Simon Peter, determined to be the hero, took his sword and struck out at the High Priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear. A determined Jesus ordered Peter to put his sword away. The soldiers tied Jesus up and dragged him off to be tried.
John, even after long years, remembered every detail, every event. He even remembered the name of the poor slave whose ear was whacked off – Malchus. No other Gospel writer could have told us that detail.
John, like most good storytellers, keeps his mind on the theme of the story. He stays focused. Luke, in his Gospel, writes about how Jesus did not leave the Garden of Gethsemane until he had healed Malchus. Luke, being a doctor, was interested in the sick and suffering finding healing.
But John as a storyteller is interested in staying focused to the theme of the story, which at this point is Peter.
John focuses on the apparent bravery of Peter. The extreme devotion. The loyalty of the disciple to the Master.
And without letting us forget that picture of Peter, John rushes the story along so as to give us a startling contrast.
This brave disciple named Peter, which means “Rock,” suddenly crumbles into a coward, deserving our wrath, anger and pity.
These two disciples -- Peter and John -- follow Jesus as he is led away to be tried by the High Priest
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