by David Sisler

Perspective. Your point of view. Do such things matter? Obviously. How much?

You are standing in a cafeteria serving line. When will you eat dessert? At the end of the meal, right? Where are the desserts placed? Before the entrees and vegetables. Why? When your tray is full, you might say, "I don't need dessert," and never pick one up. It is a matter of perspective, and smart merchandisers know that.

Do you buy store brands while shopping at the grocery store? Would it surprise you to learn that if the supermarket is over-all pleasing to the eye, you are more likely to buy the house brand, than if the store's appearance is less-appealing? That is what a study performed by the University of Buffalo in New York revealed. They even did taste tests of an identical product in two very dissimilar stores. In the high image store, 65 percent rated the product as very good or excellent, while in the older, run down store, only 38 percent of tasters rated the same product, a store brand, highly. It is a matter of perspective.

Sometimes perspective is a unique point of view. One of the nation's leading producers of dog food was in a sales slump. All of the salespeople were called to a meeting and a corporate executive, a real cheerleader, took charge of the meeting. "Who has the best market research in the industry?" he challenged. "We do!" his salespeople responded fervently. "Who has the best advertising campaign in the industry?" he cheered. "We do!" they bounced back. "Who has the best point-of-purchase displays in the industry?" he challenged. "We do!" they answered with equal enthusiasm. "Then why aren't our sales better?" he demanded.

The silence dragged on until one timid soul suggested, "The dogs don't like it."

Simon Peter did not like what he saw. In fact, there was little about the preceding day that have been to his liking.

The day started out well enough. Jesus had sent Peter and John to secure a room where they could all celebrate Passover together, and to begin preparations for the meal. Things had already been set in motion, and a contact had been arranged. In the gathering hostility of Jerusalem, a man carrying a water jar led them to a large upstairs room, secretly prepared for Jesus and his closest friends.

When the thirteen men were reclined around the table Jesus said, "This is the last time we will celebrate Passover like this. I wanted to share this meal with you one more time before I die." Then he passed out the bread and said, "This is my body which is broken for you." And they washed it down with wine which Jesus said was his blood shed for them.

As if that wasn't gloomy enough, Jesus said, "One of you sitting here at the table with me will betray me tonight. You will deliver me into the hands of my enemies." All around the table there was hurt and shock. Each one looked at his own heart and motives and said, "Lord, is it I? Am I the one?" When Judas left the room, no one thought it suspicious or wondered if Judas was the traitor.

In character, Peter cleared his throat, puffed himself up and boastfully replied, "If everyone else in this room betrays you, I will not!"

"Before the rooster beckons the dawn, Peter, you will deny three times that you even know me," Jesus said.

A few hours later Jesus was arrested, and all of the disciples ran away, frightened that they might be next. Peter came back and lingered at the fire, trying to be close to Jesus, but not close enough to be recognized and possibly arrested himself. The strategy did not work. Once, twice, three times other bystanders accused him of being a follower of the Nazarene rabbi. In desperation and with total discouragement, Peter looked at his friend. He had never seen Jesus as he saw him in that moment, hands tied behind his back, face puffy from repeated blows, spittle dripping through his beard. The same man who had suggested legions of angels were ready to fly to his rescue, now stood arrested, humiliated and disgraced.

A shudder went through Simon Peter as he said to himself, "I don't recognize this helpless person. This is not the Jesus I know." Out loud he said, "Listen, dammit, I don't know him! I don't know what you are talking about! And I'm surely not one of his followers."

From this new perspective, Jesus was unrecognized and unrecognizable.

Two months later, his faith renewed by the resurrection, his ministry restored by personal forgiveness, and his life recharged by enormous spiritual power, Peter confronted the same crowd from which he had earlier retreated in cowardice. "Change your hearts and lives and be baptized each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ," he challenged, "for the forgiveness of your sins."

A different perspective showed Peter a different Christ. What is your perspective of Jesus?


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 11/23/96

Copyright 1996 by David Sisler

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