Monday, May 18, 2015

John 21:18-25 Is that our business?

Last week we saw the disciples at the Sea of Galilee. Discouraged and without much purpose in their lives at the moment, they decided to go fishing. Jesus fixed breakfast for them on the shore, and then He restored Simon Peter to fellowship.

Jesus has some more things to say to Peter. Let's listen in:

                              Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed
                              yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old
                              you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress
                              you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 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.”Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers
                              that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would
                             not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return,
                             what is that to you?” This is the disciple who testifies to these things
                             and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
                             Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were
                             written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have
                              room for the books that would be written.(John 21:18-25)

Many, many sermons have been written about Peter, and a lot has been said about him. But you know, I really like him! Don't you? With all of his faults, and all of his "foot-in-mouth" moments, he gives us hope that we, too, may do great things for God in our corner of the world, in spite of our own shortcomings!

Peter would always ask questions, or make statements, that the other disciples might have been thinking about, but didn't dare to ask. Sometimes he would blurt out a question that might on the surface appear foolish. Or he would declare with certainty something that the others were not certain of. But I bet that in most cases, he was just saying what the others wanted to say, or asking what they didn't have the nerve to ask. Well, maybe it was that they had more restraint. I dunno.  Some people have called him impetuous. I prefer spontaneous. Perhaps impulsive. But always eager, even passionate. (I think of those as positives, myself.)

It's because of Peter's impulsiveness that we have insights into Jesus' mind that might not have been written down in the gospels if Peter had not been eager to speak his mind! It was Peter who asked how many times we should forgive someone. It was he that wanted to build shelters on the mount of Transfiguration. Peter asked what everyone else was thinking at the last supper -- who will betray you, Lord? It was Peter that wielded the sword and took off the servant's ear at the arrest of Jesus.

And it was Peter who vehemently said even if the others might forsake Jesus, he would stay with Him, even if it cost him his life. Jesus revealed that before the cock would crow, Peter would deny Him three times....and it turned out exactly as Jesus said. Our Lord was taken, His disciples forsook Him and fled, and Peter adamantly denied knowing Him -- once, twice, then the third time -- and the sound of the cock crowing was heard.

Now, in this passage, Jesus seemed to have words specifically for Peter. We've talked about how disappointed Peter must have been, with himself. He may have been wondering what Jesus thought of him. Jesus confronted him with his failure, but it was in order to restore him. And He asked Peter three times, the same number of times that Peter had denied Jesus.

Then after Peter's responses, He told him what the future would hold for him. He was going to die a martyr's death. After Jesus had revealed this to Peter, it seems from the text that He got up and began to walk away from the fire, telling Peter to follow Him.
As he followed the Lord, Peter noticed that John was also following along behind them, and he asked Jesus, "What shall this man do?"
In other words, you told me about what's going to happen to me, but I want to know this -- what's going to happen to him? What's in store for him? Does the future hold a martyr's death for him, too?

This text is so revealing. It shows us that Peter was very like many of us. I mean, seriously, Jesus had just told him how he was going to die -- but the first thing Peter wants to know is what's going to happen to John!

Wonder what his motivation was? I would think it was a pretty sobering thought, to know how he, himself, would die. Maybe he wanted to know that he would not be the only one. My grandmother used to say "misery loves company" (along with many other sayings that I recall).  Somehow, we humans feel a little bit better about our own situations, if we know that we aren't the only ones who are suffering, or going through a trial. We take comfort sometimes in thinking that other people are going through (or have gone through) similar experiences, right? Just being real, here. (Grin)

One thing we must remember, though, is that no matter what other people are doing, no matter what they are not doing, it's up to us to mind our own business. Now, I don't mean that we shouldn't be involved in other people's problems when they ask us -- they may ask our advice; they may ask for us to pray with them; they may ask for tangible help. If we can give help, we absolutely should. But we should not worry so much about whether or not someone else's experience is as good or as bad as our own. God sends us just what we need in our lives. He may, as the old song goes, send sunshine or rain. But the amazing thing is this: He will not send more than we can handle.

                     No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man;
                      but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what
                      you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape,
                      that you may be able to bear it.   (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Stop, stop, you may be saying. That is about temptations, and righteous living. Well, here is one that is about trials, as well:

                      When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through
                      the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the
                      fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
                      (Isaiah 43:2-3)

So when the trials come, and we are tempted to look about us and see "what's happening to her (or him)?" let's just "mind our business" and deal with our trials, relying on our Father. He will protect us and guide us, and when we come through the trial to the other side, we can give all the glory to Him!


Marla's Crafts said...

You know it was about a month ago a friend of mine told me that the Lord never gives us more than we can handle. With all the things that has happened in my life I sometimes wonder. It's a good thing that I am not an extravagant person or I would not have handled it so well.
This last episode with my husband told he was not going to be able to work again has made it a very stressful winter for him. I always thought it was funny how God sends his messages and this winter has been through your posts. Things are finally coming together with disability and now last week we found out he could draw his pension my husband is starting to be more himself. Even with all the things in my life that has happened life is good and I half a lot to be thankful for. I have the best two sons and two beautiful daughter n laws and four of the greatest grandchildren.
My husband will be 57 this summer and i will be 55 SoI am looking forward to retirement and hope with my husbands illness we will have a few good years to enjoy life.
thanks again for your posts and I enjoy stopping in when I need a lift for the day.

Belinda said...

I've often wondered where it says that God wouldn't give us more than we could handle. I never realized it was these two verses, as I was looking for that exact phrase.

I think I sometimes look at what others are doing or going through, (or not going through) and I am judging the other person somewhat in whether they are more blessed than I am, or whether they are less worthy of blessing. Bad me!!!