Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
In this chapter Jesus ‘reinstates’ Peter by asking him three times if he loved Him – alluding, or so it seems, to Peter’s three denials of Jesus on the night that He was betrayed. Jesus tells Peter to ‘Feed My Sheep.’ Peter now has the job of shepherding Jesus’ people. What’s interesting here is Jesus’ encouragement (maybe even a command) beginning in verse 19 to follow Him. These words take us back to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry when He first called His disciples with these same words, “Follow Me.” When the first invitation was extended, men left everything to follow Jesus. Here the invitation is extended again… and just like the first time, Peter had been fishing. He had gone back to what he knew… what was familiar. Jesus had provided this miraculous catch of fish (153 large ones!), which He had done before. Would Peter leave the security of what he knew and once again follow Jesus?
There are times I think I hear Jesus saying to me: “Follow Me, again.” Even though I made that decision years ago, the gentle chiding of the Master is… “follow Me.” There are years of ‘water under the bridge’ and it is not difficult to slip into what is more comfortable; even what might be more familiar and certainly less precarious than where Christ is leading me. He says, “follow Me.” I need to not wimp out because of the unknown or when difficult days come. When it is not sunny and breezy in following Jesus, but rather uphill in the driving rain, cold and lonely – I must keep following Christ.
Peter asked, “But what about him?” referencing John. Jesus told Peter that John was none of his concern. Peter was to follow Jesus, even to death. It’s all too easy to look at other disciples and say, “But what about him!?” This is not the conversation and it is none of my business. The charge is to me to follow regardless.
Paul wrote in Romans (14:4), “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” So my concern is me and my following Christ. I must not deny Christ by my words or actions but I must follow Him.
Lord Jesus, I hear Your shepherd’s heart calling for me to follow… and I choose to! I trust You and where You are leading me. Help me this day to fix my eyes firmly on You! For my good and Your glory… amen!