18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others[f] will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” 23 So the rumor spread among the community of believers[g] that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” (NLT)
I love Peter! There is just something about him that is so relatable. He has such a love for Jesus, messes up, yet still pursues Him. Jesus loves him despite everything that has happened. Peter is the first one out of the boat when Jesus appears to them on the shore after the resurrection. Even though he denied Christ he didn’t hold back in shame, he ran to greet the man he had walked so closely alongside for three years. As they are having a meal together, Jesus pulls him aside and has a personal conversation with Peter and gives him a purpose for his life: Feed his sheep! He wants Peter to pick up where He left off. Then Jesus tells him how one day he is going to die in a way that will glorify God. Peter looks over at John and asks Jesus: “What about him?” He wants to know what will happen to John. The scripture doesn’t say this, but I wonder if it was out of concern for his “brother” that he asked the question. The two of them had been closer to Jesus than the others during the course of his ministry. I think Jesus’ answer was to get the focus off of something that was going to happen in the future, and back to what He wanted him to do now. Of course, their conversation was overheard and the rumors started that John was not going to die. Proverbs 18:8 warns of this:
Rumors are dainty morsels that sink deep into one’s heart
I can imagine this caused quite the buzz among the other disciples. When we only hear part of a conversation or personalize something someone else has said, it can really dishearten us. Jesus didn’t say that John was not going to die; he was merely stating if that is what was in store for him that was not something that Peter needed to worry about. Peter was to follow Jesus. The same can be said for us. We get ourselves into trouble when we compare our walk with someone else’s or worry about what God is doing in someone else’s life. We need to keep our focus on Jesus! We need to follow Him.
Peter was forgiven for denying Jesus. He sat in the presence of Jesus. He was still used mightily by God to promote the gospel of Jesus to the Gentiles. Not only did he walk with Jesus, he was given His Spirit to continue His work, to feed His sheep. Colossians 1 says the same about us. We were once far from God, yet through the death of Christ, we have been reconciled to God.
21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.
26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.
Paul also spread the message of hope to the Gentiles which has been passed down for generations to reach this time in history. Jesus laid the foundation, then passed the baton to Peter and the other disciples. He called upon Paul to travel all over to spread the Good News. The lives of Peter and Paul both show us that no one is beyond being used for God’s purposes—it doesn’t matter how many times we’ve messed up. We all have a story of redemption to share. We have all been sent out to “feed my sheep”.
Thank you, Lord, for revealing the message of redemption. Because of this, I am reconciled to You. I have Christ living inside of me. That is something that is beyond my comprehension; all I can do is trust it is so. Thank you that you love me even though I’ve messed up plenty of times. Help me keep my focus on You, Jesus. I want to follow You. In your name I pray.