Peter Asks, Lord What About Him?
Calling by his Lord to be a dedicated follower, Peter could not resist comparing how Jesus dealt with John. He seemed to say,
“If I have to be a martyr, why doesn’t John receive the same fate?”
So the Lord told Peter something you and I need to recall every day of our lives. Paraphrased, verse 22 might go like this: “What I choose to do with other people is none of your business; you follow me.”
Our Times Are in His Hand
I assure you and most solemnly say to you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and walked wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and arms, and someone else will dress you, and carry you where you do not wish to go.” Now He said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And after saying this, He said to him, “Follow Me [walk the same path of life that I have walked]!”
John 21:18-19 (AMP)
Having established the motivation for service, Jesus went on to describe the turns that Peter’s life would take. This brash, independent, vocal fisherman would one day be dependent presumably a prisoner, and, many believe, a martyr. Only the Son of God could tell someone that following him would lead to death and then immediately say, Follow me!
We may be uncertain and fearful about our future, but if we know God is in control, we can confidently follow Christ.
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His chest at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray You?” So when Peter saw him, he asked Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man [what is in his future]?”
John 21:20-21 (AMP)
We must not forget that Jesus spoke to a pre-Pentecost Peter. When he learned about his own death, Peter apparently glanced at John and asked a question about which he may have felt embarrassment for the rest of his life:
Lord, what about him?
He might have meant, “I’m more concerned about my brother John.” More likely, however, the Peter we know and love would have responded to the prophecy by saying, “If I have to die, so does John.”
Parents and teachers of children about 9-11 know this attitude only too well. Whether it is a test in the classroom or a game on the playground, kids love to complain, “It’s not fair.”
In Tasker’s words, “Peter and John have different vocations; but neither is to question why the other’s vocation should be different from his own. What is that to you? (21:22) is Jesus’ rebuke to Peter when he shows himself ideally curious about the future of his friend; and the last word of Jesus to Peter is similar to his first, As for you follow me.
Jesus said to him, “If I want him to stay alive until I come [again], what is that to you? You follow Me!” So this word went out among the brothers that this disciple (John) was not going to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not going to die, but only, “If I want him to stay alive until I come [again], what is that to you?”
John 21:22-23 (AMP)
Jesus’ response took the form of a mild rebuke and the command to follow. He allowed no comparison with how God leads others or what he gives them while we feel we may have endured great sacrifice.
What a great lesson! We shouldn’t look at how others are faring in their service to the Lord. We aren’t all called to do the same thing, and therefore we can’t compare the results we are getting with what others are doing. We just need to focus on what the Lord is instructing us to do (2 Corinthians 10:12).
John would live longer than Peter, though there is no reason Peter would infer this from the text. The key is not how long John would live nor that he would live until the Lord’s return (the if looms large here.) the main thing is that each Christian should follow Christ in whatever manner he or she is called.
Nevertheless, rumors spread among the brothers – a malady that has worsened in the church over two thousand years. John felt the need to correct it, so he stated the exact words of Jesus.
John lived into his nineties, history tells us, but he certainly did not have an exemption from death. The argument had nothing to do with longevity or death; it focused exclusively on Peter’s attitude regarding God’s will for his life.
This is the same disciple who is testifying to these things and has recorded them; and we know [without any doubt] that his testimony is true.
John 21:24 (AMP)
Without naming himself, John indicated he was the one referred to in that conversation. Now he wrote down what he says and heard – an eyewitness record, hand-written and accurate. He could have included so much more, but he wrote only what the Spirit told him to write.
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were recorded one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
John 21:25 (AMP)
John’s state purpose for writing his Gospel was to show that Jesus was the Son of God (John 20:31). He clearly and systematically presented the evidence for Jesus’ claims. When evidence is presented in the courtroom, those who hear it must make a choice. Those who read the Gospel of John must also make a choice –
Is Jesus the Son of God, or isn’t he?
You are the jury. The evidence has been clearly presented. You must decide. Read John’s Gospel and believe!
Our studies in the Fourth Gospel have led us on a spiritual odyssey through one of the greatest books of the Bible. We have learned about faith from this Spirit-inspired record of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God’s son.
John’s purpose has been clear: to point people to faith in the Savior by showing both the historical record and the interpretation of his life and ministry. John alone among the Gospel writers recorded
- His own personal testimony about the Lord,
- The visit of Nicodemus,
- The raising of Lazarus, and
- The detailed prayer of chapter 17.
He carefully selected those words and works of the Lord that he calculated would lead his readers to faith. And having led them to faith, he wanted those readers to become a part of the movement he himself had joined – followers of Jesus who would serve him to the death.
PRINCIPLES TO GO BY
- Serving Christ in the energy of the flesh alone will bring futility and frustration.
- Whenever he tells you to do something, just do it.
- Discipleship means following Christ without asking questions about other people.
- Reject everything in you life that is not the will of God.
- Never forget that love is the centerpiece of ministry to other people.
- Follow the Lord regardless of what happens in the lives of others.
MY PERSONAL STORY
While I was reading the book of John, I had the most wonderful experience. I was reading about the crucifixion of Jesus and what Jesus went through and this touched my heart. Then I felt an enormous feeling of joy and love wash over me. I was so excited and so happy that it hurt. I had never felt such a wonderful experience. I was high on love. Click Here To Read The Whole Story!
Father, thank you for the wonders of you Word, especially this magnificent Gospel that gives us such a personal look at our Lord.
I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.
Andrew Wommack’s Living Commentary
Holman New Testament Commentary