“Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter therefore seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” John 21:20-22 NASB
Throughout the ages, the Lord has sifted and tried His followers. Some of His dealings with us seem to go against the grain of our sense of what is appropriate or even fair. Why is it that some disciples of Christ seem to get ‘red carpet’ treatment, while others seem always to be ‘on the carpet’ for some reason or the other? So instead of our keeping focused on the Lord and being what He desires of us, we begin to look around the room at others. This was Peter’s bent and as we shall see, the Lord dealt with him directly, pointedly, and yet faithfully. It will seem at times that the Lord is almost ruthless in the way He responds to His disciples. To quote the words of Oswald Chambers from his work, My Utmost for His Highest…’Never apologise for the Lord. The words of the Lord hurt and offend until there is nothing left to hurt or offend. Jesus Christ has no tenderness whatsoever toward anything that is ultimately going to ruin a man in the service of God. Our Lord’s answers are based not on caprice, but on a knowledge of what is in a man. If the Spirit of God brings to your mind a word of the Lord that hurts you, you may be sure that there is something He wants to hurt to death.’ Peter seemed to get more than his share of ‘hurting’ words from the One who was ‘love incarnate’…see Matthew 16:21-23 for one example.
What about Peter’s question concerning John’s future in the passage above? What’s so bad about asking – “What about him Lord?” Then look at the response of Jesus – ‘what is that to you? You follow Me.” Which is in reality a polite way of saying, ‘mind your own business Peter!’ Did Jesus enjoying putting Peter in his place or was He seeking to highlight an important truth for Peter and disciples of all ages? In the context of the chapter before us Jesus has just finished a deep and meaningful conversation with the now humbled and broken Peter. In response to Jesus’ thrice repeated question – Peter had renewed his expression of love and had received a fresh commission from His Lord, as well as getting a prophetic hint concerning the violent death by which he would glorify God. You would think that the experiences of the past few hours would have riveted Peter’s attention solely on his Master. Yet, instead of being focused on Jesus, he sets about to compare his own future with that of John. Peter was intruding into a realm, which was to be of no concern of his.
In the light of the path that he would walk, he began to compare his lot with that of another. A new self-pity seems to surface, but Jesus quickly asserts His right to determine both Peter and John’s future. There are some lessons in being followers of Jesus that we must learn thoroughly. One is that we must never turn about and compare our lot with that of another. At times you will be tempted to manage the affairs of others, you may even like Peter, try to manage Jesus. We must learn that Jesus deals with us each individually and personally. His dealings and will are not always clear or even explicable to others. They may not always seem fair or easy, but they will always be for our good and for His glory! It is not your business to concern yourself with the Lord’s business.
Take heed to yourself and your motives.
Be faithful to what God has called you.
Rejoice in the fact that others may do what you cannot and enjoy what you have not.