Lord, give me the grace to hear Your instructions and to follow You wherever you lead me.
Read John 21:20–25
20 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?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 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?”
24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
25 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.
New International Version (NIV)
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As we finish John’s Gospel, thank God for all the unnamed Christians who faithfully preserved these words, copied them and translated them so that we, too, could read this account.
Jesus had just said to Peter some very strange and troubling words (18,19). The scene in the high priest’s courtyard had been stressful enough, and Peter had failed as a disciple. Now forgiven, his relationship with Jesus restored, he was given a challenge of an altogether different order. The words “stretch out your hands” are regularly used as a euphemism for crucifixion. With this prophecy, Jesus gives Peter the same command, “Follow me.”
Now, in verse 20, John makes an interesting, if oblique, point, as he identifies “the disciple whom Jesus loved” as the one who had sat next to Jesus at the Last Supper and asked Jesus who was going to betray him. A special intimacy between John and Jesus is suggested here—and also between John and Peter, who had instigated the question (John 13:23,25). Jesus had chosen these two disciples along with James to be with him at key points in his ministry, notably the raising of Jairus’s daughter and the transfiguration (Luke 8:49–56; 9:28–36). It is not surprising, then, that Peter asks Jesus about John’s future. Jesus is blunt. It is not for Peter to know what will happen to John.
John’s Gospel closes with words that tease every commentator. The writer of this Gospel seems to identify himself with “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (7,20). That still leaves the puzzle of who is meant by “we” (24). Various possibilities have been suggested. I tend to think that “we” means the first Christians at Ephesus, where John spent his last days, and that someone there penned these final words.
We each have our own calling, uniquely suited to our own situation and gifts. Let’s be sure that we follow not a Christian we admire but our risen Lord. Are you ready to follow the Lord?
Lord, I understand that Your will for me individually may not apply to another. Help me to keep my focus on what You would have me do and not worry about others.