The Series - Jesus, Unique & Unequaled Teacher (47/50)
Focus Text: John 21.18-22
“‘Most assuredly, I [Jesus] say to you [Simon Peter], when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’ This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved [John] following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’ Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, ‘But Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.’”
Peter knew the force of Jesus’ words; he understood that Jesus was predicting that he would die a captive at the hands of another. In spite of this prophecy, Jesus still commanded Peter, “Follow me!” This was not the first time that Jesus had warned His disciples of persecution. However, this time the prophecy was specific to Peter and not generic to all. This time Peter knew that His discipleship would ultimately cost him his life, albeit it would be when he was old.” Perhaps it was only natural that Peter would think of how he was going to die as compared to how others would die; maybe it was the thought that “life is not fair” that entered his mind. Perhaps it was this thought that prompted Peter to ask specifically about John and his future. However, Peter’s motives are not our point of focus; rather, we want to consider how Jesus responded.
“If I will that he [John] remain till I come, what is that to you?” Pause. “Ouch!” Once again Peter had put his mouth in motion before he put his brain in gear. If Jesus were responding to Peter’s question in today’s vernacular, I think He would roughly say, “That is none of your business, Peter. You mind what you need to do and let Me handle the rest!” Keep in mind that this rebuke by Jesus followed directly on the heels of one of His intensive care nurturing sessions with Peter. In spite of it all, Jesus stayed the course and continued to indulge Peter and his impulsive personality. In spite of all of Peter’s failings, Jesus was willing to freely forgive.
This attribute of the Unique and Unequalled Teacher is an important one for humankind to understand. It is an important attribute for me to understand. I know my weaknesses; I know how frequently I fail even when I do not wish to do so. I am personally glad that Jesus had a disciple like Peter; it answers a lot of questions which I have about Jesus’ willingness to forgive me! I know that forgiveness was not just a theory to be exercised after the Cross was reality. I see in Jesus’ day-to-day activities that He was ready to forgive one of His own, even when that one (such as Peter, or such as I) sometimes sinned hastily with his mouth and in his actions. I reason from this that if Jesus could forgive Peter, He can forgive me! Not that I am greater than Peter, but surely I can see the spirit of forgiveness that was a daily trait of Jesus our Lord.
Forgiveness was not free, but Jesus was free with forgiveness. He did not hold a grudge, nor did He see sin as having a cumulative effect. Once forgiveness took place, it was over and done; there were no remnants of it to mar the present. Jesus – Free with Forgiveness.
1. What did Peter learn from the prophecy of Jesus regarding his death?
2. Why possible reasons would Peter have had for asking about John’s future?
3. What is the difference in forgiveness being free, and being free with forgiveness?
4. What practical value does Jesus’ interaction with Peter have for us today, especially as it relates to Peter’s sins and weaknesses?
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