After his resurrection from the dead, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. He answered yes three times. Then Jesus told Peter how he would die—apparently by crucifixion. Peter wondered about how it would go with John. So he asked Jesus, “What about this man?” Jesus brushed off the question and said, “What is that to you? You follow me!” Here’s the whole exchange.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at the table close to him and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:18-22)
Jesus words “None of your business, follow me” are sweet to my ears. They are liberating from the depressing bondage of fatal comparing. Of looking at someone else’s life and feeling inadequate.
I was encouraged by Jesus’ word to me (and you): “What is that to you? You follow me!” Peter had just heard a very hard word. You will die…painfully. His first thought was comparison. What about John? If I have to suffer, will he have to suffer? If my ministry ends like that, will his end like that? If I don’t get to live a long life, will he get to?
That’s the way we sinners are wired. Compare. Compare. Compare. We crave to know how we stack up in comparison to others.
That word landed on me with great joy. Jesus will not judge me according to my superiority or inferiority over anybody. No sibling. No friend. No ministry. These are not the standard. Jesus has a work for me to do (and a different one for you). It is not what he has given anyone else to do. There is a grace to do it. Will I trust him for that grace and do what he has given me to do? That is the question.
I hope you find encouragement and freedom today when you hear Jesus say to all your comparisons: “What is that to you? You follow me!”
Learning to walk in freedom with you.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- In what areas do you most often fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others? When you compare yourself to others, do you more often see yourself on the shorter end of the stick or above others? What is the danger in either direction?
- How can we remember and put in action Jesus words: “What is that to you? You follow me!”
- What adjectives would you use to describe Jesus in this chapter? What are his priorities? Page through the previous chapters of John asking the same questions? How can you seek to be Christ-like this week? What work does Jesus have for you to do?