Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What Is That To Thee?

Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. (John 21:20-22 KJV)

Peter had just completed a rather strange conversation with our Lord. Three times Christ had asked Peter “Lovest thou me”, translated from the Greek  ἀγαπάω (agapaō) twice, then φιλέω (phileō), the word used in all three of Peter’s answers. While there’s a message there, today I’m thinking about Peter’s question, and Christ’s answer, as Peter’s attention was drawn to “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

Did you ever feel there was someone loved more than you? A sibling, a friend, someone you could never quite measure up to in another’s eyes? That’s what verse 20 brings to my mind. Peter had just been told about his own death:

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. (John 21:18-19 KJV)

There’s no sugar-coating in this description, yet Christ adds, “Follow me.” Peter could have answered with either yes or no. Instead, he points out another, one obviously close to the Lord, and asks, “What about him?”

Don’t we do that, too, as we attempt to judge our activities in the Lord’s work? Don’t we try to measure what we do against what others have done/are doing, hoping it’s enough? Well, it isn’t. There simply isn’t enough we can do to earn what Christ died to give us.

Oh, plenty of others are physically doing more than any one of us. We’ll always come up short when comparing with another, but Christ has the right response then, and perfect for us now:

Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. (John 21:22 KJV)

My concern must be to do God’s will in my life for my life. Not for yours or anyone else’s. That’s true for each one of us. I cannot make a spiritual decision for anyone but myself. Neither can anyone else.

Yes, there are physical activities I can do and prayers for others I can pray, but that does not bring about a change no matter how hard I work at it. Their change comes after seeing God’s gift of life for themselves. Yet, we’re told, “Follow thou me,” as though that could make a difference – and it can for us as it did for Peter when he followed.

That last chapter in John was a beginning for Peter as he testified for Christ as he followed. Pick up the story in Acts, read the letters he wrote to believers. Take time to see how he followed, still learning along the way. Do not worry about the ones who may tarry – or the ones working harder. Our job is to follow, accomplishing God’s will in our own lives.

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