Reflecting on John 21: 1-19
Even though it’s nowhere in scripture, tradition says that Peter, when an old man, was dragged away and crucified. Because he did not feel worthy to receive the same death as his Lord, Peter asked to be crucified upside down. Scripture never tells us where or when this took place, but the author of John’s gospel certainly knows about it, because he says that Jesus’s words to Peter the day will come when you will be led where you do not want to go signified by what kind of death Peter would glorify God.
Peter was probably martyred by Emperor Nero in Rome in the mid-60s, AD. The origin of the tradition of him being crucified upside down is unknown. But his death HAS glorified God, hasn’t it, all these centuries? Hasn’t the image of Peter begging to endure a more humiliating death than even Jesus endured been a source of inspiration and strength to you from the day you first heard it?
We don’t have to dance around the facts of the resurrection. The eyewitnesses to the empty tomb, and to the Risen One, didn’t say things like, “Well, he’s risen in our hearts,” or “We feel his Spirit and are strengthened.” That would never be enough to ask your executioners to nail you to a cross upside down.
Peter and all the martyred ones went to their deaths utterly positive that the grave that held Jesus was empty, and that Christ would raise them up with him. The witnessthat’s another word for “martyr”—of those first believers rings out throughout the ages: He is Risen, and our lives and deaths are meant to give glory to that Name.
What deaths have you witnessed that give glory to God?
Kathy McGovern ©2019