I’d always identified more with the Apostle Paul. But Peter? A mouthy fisherman with a yellow streak. But then I was asked to dramatize the Peter story for a movie project, and was astonished at what I discovered: more than anyone else, this broken, redeemed fisherman shows us who Jesus is. And what the historical event we call Easter is. The story was never filmed, but I did adapt it into six monologues (The Simon-Peter Chronicles), which are now regularly performed at churches throughout North America.
Simon (later renamed Peter), shares a fishing business with his brother Andrew on stormy Lake Galilee: “I was mixing tar for leaks when Andrew insisted on dragging me to meet this prophet Yeshua (Jesus) at the Jordan River, where crazy John the Baptist was preaching. ‘Simon!’ Andrew shouted, ‘we’ve found him, the Messiah, the one who takes away the sins of the world!’
“’I don’t need another prophet, unless he can show me where to find fish!’ I lied. As long as I can remember I’ve longed to be nearer to God. But it’s impossible because of the Veil.” (Simon is referring to the sacred curtain at the Temple in Jerusalem that separates sinful humans from a holy God.)
“But then at synagogue, our rabbi called Abraham ‘a friend of God’ because he had faith in the one who takes away the sins of the world.’ I want that kind of faith! But I’ve sinned so many times. I would gut my heart like a fish and carve out the sin and throw it to the dogs, if I could. But I can’t. I can’t make myself clean! Can anyone? Can this Jesus?
“The first time I heard Him speak, my heart leaped like a fish trying to get into a net! Then, yesterday, John the Baptist was dragged away by King Herod’s guards. And now the people are more lost than ever. Has God abandoned us?”
“As if in answer, Jesus came to us while we were fishing. Once again the fish had all but vanished. Jesus called, ‘Cast your net on the other side of the boat!’ Which any fisherman knows can only fail. But we did it. Madness! The net filled so fast—fat silvery sardines and slithering biny—it was bursting! Andrew laughed like a rooster!
“Then Jesus looked straight at me as if he’d heard me when I said was only interested in a prophet who could help me find fish: ‘Simon, from now on you’ll catch men.’ And then he whispered, ‘Follow me.’”
“Jesus frightens me. I’m just an ordinary man, and sometimes I think he’s not. And yet, no, it’s more as if he were the only ordinary man and rest of us were just pretending to be human. He never does things the way I think he should. My mother-in-law was terribly sick, miserable. Yet, at first Jesus did nothing. Why?
“I asked him, ‘Master, why do you allow suffering?’
“He looked into my eyes and said, ‘Why do you?’ And suddenly I saw all the hurt and pain I could have stopped in my life, and didn’t.
“Then Jesus took her hand, and she was healed. Instantly. “I told my wife, ‘From now on, whether he lives or dies,
I’ll be with him.’”
Peter’s journal concludes with:
The Confessions of Peter, Part 2