Thursday, October 25, 2012

John 21:18-19

After affirming His love and His mission for Peter, Jesus gives Peter a peek into what lies ahead of him:

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” (John 21:18-19)

Now, this doesn’t seem real specific to me, but somehow Peter got the message that he would live to be old and that his end would not be pleasant or something he would want, since he was told here he would be lead, apparently forcibly, to “where you do not want to go.” We know form church history that Peter was crucified upside down by Nero. But Jesus doesn’t give Peter that specific detail. He tells Peter only what he needs to know: it will be a while from now, and it won’t be pleasant. The good news? Peter’s death would glorify God!

But, Jesus encourages Peter to do one thing: “Follow me!” “Keep your eyes on me, Peter! Don’t turn to the right or left, just keep looking to me and walk, step by step, where I lead!” Now, Peter was the passionate, devoted disciple, who was best known by his highs and lows. One minute he was proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, for which he received a commendation from Jesus, and the next he was being rebuked for speaking the words of Satan!

Peter was the one who jumped out of the boat and walked on the water to Jesus, then began to sink as soon as he took his eyes off of Him. He proclaimed his undying loyalty at the Last Supper, rashly took out the sword to defend Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, then cowered before a servant girl and denied even knowing Christ, all in the same evening.

How was this impulsive “bumbler and stumbler,” as Jon Courson refers to him, going to make it through the hard times of ministry? How would he remain faithful in service to Jesus? The same way you and I can – by following Jesus. By making the willful, determined, intentional choice to abide in Christ through His Word and to minute by minute decide to glorify God with our whole life. The really good news is that neither Peter nor we do this in our own strength. We don’t hold on to God with all of our might, because He is holding onto us with all of His! What a relief!!!

Peter will receive one last rebuke from Jesus before this encounter is over. We’ll look at that tomorrow!


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