According to Jesus, the duty of a true disciple and follower is to share the gospel with others and to make disciples out of those who are converted. With this formula having been extended, Jesus looked to Peter, and made a chilling prophecy. With just a few words, Jesus explained to Peter that the day would come when Peter would be killed for being a follower of Jesus. This must have been disconcerting to say the least, but the discomfort must have met with a sense of hope.
The last time that Peter had been put to the test of his faith, he had fled and denied Jesus. Now, Jesus was telling him that the day would come when in the face of persecution Peter would stand his ground, never depart from the faith and ultimately join Christ in suffering a martyr’s death. It must have been reassuring to Peter who no doubt wondered what would happen if he were ever put to the test again. The last time, before the arrest in the midnight garden, Peter had been so emphatic about how he would be willing to die for Jesus and that he would never leave the side of Jesus. When Peter’s zealous imagination was met with the flash of torches against cold steel, his heart melted as he retreated into the night with curses and lies. Now, on the bank of the Galilee over a fish breakfast Jesus himself had said that Peter would never back down again. What a reassuring reality.
But with this confidence came the reality that Peter would one day die for his faith. There was no turning back. There was no abandoning. Jesus had declared it there in front of several disciples, and Peter would eventually feel the nails and beams of a Roman cross. Peter never looked back. Until his death, his boldness and faith was unmatched. Not only was he part of the church, Peter was called to the role of leader in the Jerusalem church. Peter would preach, and train others, and would ultimately fulfill the command to “follow me” as Christ had commanded, by making disciples of those he saw come to the faith.
Hearing the sharp truth from the mouth of Jesus, Peter looked at John, and asked Jesus if John would die the same way. Jesus answered very quickly, and apparently in a way that others would misinterpret later on. In effect the answer that Jesus gave was this, “What ever I will, is what will happen to John. What you need to be concerned with is what I have told you.” This is consistent with everything else that we learn from scripture. The call of God on us is to love and obey him, not to inspect the hidden will of God for the lives of others. Jesus knew that Peter’s knowing what would happen to John would not help Peter to follow him any better. Instead, Jesus reissued His call on Peter, “Follow thou me.”
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the successes and designs of other people’s lives. We often try to template our lives, imagining that although we have a completely different set of God ordained circumstances and personal characteristics, somehow we could make our Christian life or ministering exactly like someone else’s whom we idolize. The call of Jesus goes to all of His disciples the same, “Follow me.” Jesus was not bound up in the compare and copy technique of ministering. He saw the goal of loving others, and glorifying God as the fuel that drove him. We would be wise to see only His example as the perfect one to follow.
Food For Thought: Why did Jesus tell Peter not to worry what would happen to John?