On Following-Lent 10, 2015

on followingJohn 13:36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” 37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Peter wanted a destination.  Jesus offered none.

Peter wanted to follow, even accompany Jesus on this trip.  Jesus said the equivalent of “You have no idea what you’re saying.  You’re not even able to.”

(You see, Peter was a sinner and Jesus was not.)

Peter didn’t understand because he was looking for the wrong thing: a destination like Nazareth or Capernaum that he could map out.  Instead Jesus tells him an order of events: I go first because I am able to.  You come later because after I do what I do, then you’ll be able to. Peter doesn’t get it and asks “Why can’t I?”  And to prove his willingness, he even offers to lay down his life.

Sometimes in our foolishness, we’re nearer the mark than we realize. 

Laying down a life was about to happen…to Jesus.  It was the process.  No one really knows the destination exactly.  Yes, the Cross.  Yes, the grave.  Yes, risen from the grave, but what the actual destination was…well, it’s part of the mystery of this whole thing.  Where did Jesus go when He died?  We don’t know.  But we know He didn’t stay there because He didn’t stay dead. Peter offers to lay his own life down, but Peter’s offering to go ahead of Jesus wasn’t the same as Peter following Jesus.  He had the order all mixed up because he confused the destination with the process of being made clean.  With Christ in the Upper Room, Jesus tells us His last word on following which is a process, not a destination.

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Give it Up for Lent:  Control

Put it On for Lent: Humble acceptance

For further thought:

  • Have you ever wanted to do something you weren’t able to do?  Why weren’t you able to do it?  How did you react?
  • Read about an exchange with Peter and the Beloved Disciple, John.  To Peter, Jesus says, John 21: 18 I tell you the truth, 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.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” 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 brothers 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?”
  • What does Peter’s question, “What about him?” say about Peter’s understanding of what laying one’s life down truly entails?  What might be some of the reasons Peter would have asked that?
  • Read 2 Peter 1:12 “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.”   Church tradition suggests that Peter was crucified but asked to be crucified upside down so that he would demonstrate his unworthiness to die in exactly the same manner as Jesus.
  • Toward the end of Peter’s ministry (in 2 Peter 1 above), what did he understand about sin and ability to follow Jesus by laying down one’s life that he obviously didn’t understand in our John 13 passage from today?

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Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on February 28, 2015

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