Back in January of 2020, I wrote a blog post a bit upset Paul made it sound like Cephas was the first person to experience the risen Christ. It was the women first, Paul. Obviously, the gospels were not around when Paul wrote Corinthians, so it is hard to state a motivation here for not talking about the women who proclaimed Jesus’ resurrection, but I am kind of past that worry now. I am seeing something in a new light that I could not see before now.
I relate to Cephas, also known as Peter, because Peter had major anxiety and it shows in a lot of the stories written about him. Cephas is the Aramaic word for Rock. Jesus called Peter “Cephas” because he was the rock the εκκλησία, which means “calling out” or assembly in Greek, would be built upon. Peter would lead an assembly called out by Jesus. It is too early to call it a church at this point, even though a lot of our Bibles have translated it as church. That is true now.
Peter, Cephas, suffered from anxiety in a major way. You can see it all throughout scripture where he is mentioned. Right after Peter is told he is the rock the εκκλησία will be built on after Peter declaring Jesus as the Messiah, Peter then turns around and rebukes Jesus when he hears all the suffering Jesus will endure. That is not what Peter thought the Messiah would do. Jesus says: “Get behind me, Satan!” Peter after receiving the keys to the kingdom of heaven for knowing who Jesus is, is soon after called Satan for not understanding Jesus. He knew and then he did not know when his mind became concerned with human concerns instead of God’s concerns. Oof, I feel that.
It is important to note that Peter does not fall apart at this scolding. Satan, while not a nice or pleasant thing to be called, had a different connotation than how we have it defined as a culture right now. I am not going into that in this post, but I am mentioning it to highlight another point. Peter fell apart later and it was when he realized he had denied Jesus three times after the rooster crowed. This is in all four gospels, so this must have happened and is significant to the gospel story. So, in reading this passage, I am filled with compassion that Cephas is mentioned first. Also, in the gospel of Mark, the young man in white tells the women to go tell the disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you. Why did Peter need to be named separately from the disciples? My guess is he needed encouragement. He needed to hear he was still included.
When George mentioned in his sermon today Christ was revealed to the hardest cases first—the people we are closest to—something in me shifted. Cephas, Peter, seemed to be revealing himself to me at this moment. I, too, suffer from anxiety and a severe case of feeling like I do not belong. I have spent so much time proving myself because I have experienced Jesus in a way that I have never felt before when everything seemed to be lost. But I, too, have lost my way being concerned with what humans are concerned with and not what God is concerned with once I recognized who Jesus is.
Coming to Wilshire, I was filled with so much pain. Some pain I knew about and some I did not. A lot I did not know. The little girl hiding in me finally got to feel her feelings that had been bottled up for so long to survive, because now she is safe. It is a process to live into that truth, though. Our bodies experience so much in the process of healing. It is a violent process. And the habit of looking out and calculating danger is so hard to stop doing. The walls need to come down or we cannot enter the reign of heaven.
I learned this week that I had one more enemy to face and learn how to not only NOT conquer, but to also love…