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THOU ART PETER

through the hours of His Master's agony. In defense he strikes with his sword at a soldier; and in the courtyard of the high priest he de- nies Him thrice before the cock can crow.

These are the definitive pictures of Peter retained in the memory of centuries. He is of great heart but despairs easily; he has energy to strike but no clear knowledge of the target to be struck at; and he is a man of contradictions entrusted with a lofty mission which over- whelms him. Nevertheless, the traits of human nature in its greater and meaner forms are placed against a majestic background by die Bible. This is revealed dark and difficult to fathom in the scene of Gesarea Philippi.

Jesus had awakened the enthusiasm of the people. Herod Anti- pas, ruler of the land, who had caused the Baptist to be beheaded, thought that a second John had come. The High Council in Jeru- salem heard of the happenings in the north and suspected a breach with the Jewish religion. Earthly and spiritual power already began to tie the tragic knot in the life of the Nazarene. Scribes came to the Sea of Gennesaret in order to see for themselves. They realized that there was danger and sundered the people from Him. For this was only a wavering folk willing to obey the keepers of the law. Jesus lost followers, sentiment turned against Him, and He was deserted even by disciples. He went northward toward Phoenicia taking with him a little band that included Peter. They did not know where to lay their heads. Soon they were turned back into the heathen country east of the lake. Jesus taught and Jews also came again. These were no important personages, but just a mass of men; and to them was directed the Sermon on the Mount that tells of God's King- dom, in which everything is totally different from what prevails in the world of humankind. But the Pharisees were again in pursuit* And so He went up the Jordan to the green hill country of the wells which lies at the foot of snow-capped Mount Hermon, Near Caesarea Paneas, the city of Prince Philip, there stood above a high terrace a temple in honour of Augustus. There He began to talk about His Person to His companions. Now His influence had already grown deep enough to permit wrestling with the questions which the Jewish people perhaps even more than the other peoples of the Orient asked whenever in their history men and events


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