Does the end justify the means? Should we fib for Jesus? Are little white lies for the masses OK, if you are pursuing the Social Gospel?
Jim Wallis thinks the correct answers are all “yes.”
He was approached by producers of the big budget History Channel series, The Bible. He is proud of that show.
The producers, Mark and Roma, asked me and a number of other theologians and pastors to view some of the clips ahead of time and do commentaries on them for “The Bible” website. I am including the clips I commented on at the end of this column. What won me over to the whole series was the clip about Jesus meeting Peter, the fisherman.
Let him describe what happened.
In my favorite clip of the series, Jesus sees Peter out on the Sea of Galilee, and boldly walks out into the water to Peter’s fishing boat. The incredulous young fisherman asks this guy what he is doing! Jesus responds by asking Peter to help him into his boat, and then tells him to cast his net into the sea again to catch some fish. Peter cynically says there are no fish today, but Jesus persists. Something about Jesus makes Peter decide to throw his net back into the water and, you know the story, the net is filled with fish! Over and over again.
None of this happened. None of this is in the text. The thing was invented out of whole cloth by the script writer, who deliberately ignored the original “scripts”: Matthew 14:25ff., Mark 6:49ff., and John 6:19ff.
Jesus did not ask for help to get into the boat. On the contrary, Peter got out of the boat and tried to walk on the water. He sank. Jesus saved him. Here is the most detailed account of the incident.
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God (Matthew 14:27-33).
Jesus did not tell Peter to cast his net into the sea immediately after getting into the boat.
Astonished now, Peter asks Jesus how this happened. Jesus doesn’t really answer the question but instead, gives his famous invitation to Peter — come with me and I will make you a fisher of men. “What are we going to do,” Peter asks Jesus, which is a wonderful question. And I love the answer Jesus gives, which is in all the promotions of “The Bible” series, “Change the world.”
(For the rest of my article, click the link.)