1998-10-01 - What is That to You?
The Cross Series, Part 54
John 21:18-22 "Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go." 19 Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow me!" 20 Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His breast at the supper, and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?" 21 Peter therefore seeing him said to Jesus, "Lord, and what about this man?" 22 Jesus said to him, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!"
One of the very first devotionals I wrote for this group, dealt with the restoration of Peter by Jesus. It is a powerful moment in the history of Christianity. It shows that we can stumble, even badly and Jesus stands waiting to restore us. Please read Breakfast with Peter when you have a minute. (http://www.cfdevotionals.org//devpages/de960411.htm)
After the miraculous catch of fish and a quiet breakfast on the beach, Jesus' and the disciples go for a walk. Jesus has not only just restored Peter, but the Lord did not make Peter come to Him. Jesus sought out the broken hearted fisherman and met Peter at Peter's level. Jesus challenged Peter to agape (unconditional love) but was willing to accept phileo (brotherly love) from Peter. The disciple had learned about his fallible humanity and dependence on Jesus, and his answer showed it and the growth that came with the painful lesson. Peter would grow toward agape, as we do today in our walk.
Jesus has a word of warning for Peter. Jesus prophecies regarding Peter's imprisonment and execution in Rome. Even as he stood condemned, Peter rocked the Roman world for Jesus. The simple, yet profound command, "Follow me," has a cost that is paid differently by each one of us. For Peter it was the Coliseum. For John it would be the Roman "Devil's Island" of Patmos where John would receive the Revelation. Peter turns and asks Jesus about John and anything that Jesus might have to say about the young man. Whatever it was that motivated Peter to ask, Jesus refocuses Peter, "… what is that to you? You follow me?"
I have heard believers grumble about their lot. They feel that if they had been appointed a more noble task, they would be able to serve more gladly perhaps. Dr. Billy Graham has endured extreme difficult and hardship in his ministry, especially in the early years. In it all, he honored God without reserve. He struggled with his son, Franklin, who wandered away from Christianity for a time. Those must have been difficult years for father Billy and mother Ruth Graham indeed. If you have children, you know what I mean. There have been stinging attacks from the news media and Christians alike. Dr. Graham has held the council of Kings and Presidents, and never spoken a word without their permission. While he may stand in the spotlight, he kneels humbly before Jesus. He has quietly taken the burden, his cross to bear, up and walked onward.
Phil 4:11-12 Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
What is that to me, in the eyes of Jesus, if I feel that Dr. Graham's appointment would be more to my liking? I have been given my assignment. There is no spotlight, which is actually fine with me. My heart has been prepared to do this. God has given me the tools to do this job and the friends to help me in the task. I do not know that I could have withstood some of the pressures and the attacks that have been the evangelists portion. Jesus refocuses Peter, "You follow me." It is your portion and mine to follow the path that Jesus prepares for us. One step at a time He leads us. If I look around and wonder what the next person is doing, I'm not watching where I'm going.
Paul had been shipwrecked, stoned and left for dead, beaten with scourges, unjustly held in prison, suffered plots against his life and more. If anyone had reason to complain, he would be a candidate. But he did not.
Phil 3:10-14 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The power of His resurrection, yes! The fellowship of His sufferings? Umm, whipped, beaten, crucified? Being conformed to His death? Yikes! All this so that Paul might know Jesus Christ and attain the goal of the upward call. Paul recognized that Jesus had laid hold of him for a purpose, and so he pressed on, through all these things. What is that to me? By grace I have been called to different sufferings, some difficult indeed while others hardly compare. But God is using them all to make me who He wants me to be. Paul may be a model of a faithful response to the trials of this world. What is that to you? He is a light house along the way pointing on to Jesus and saying, "Follow Him.".
Lord Jesus - there are so many time and ways for us to be side tracked and diverted from the path You have chosen for us. Help us focus on You and not see every trial as a roadblock. Teach us patience and fill us with Your grace as we walk following You. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.