Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” – John 20:22http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2021:22&version=NIV
I think that’s hilarious! I’m not sure Jesus said it with the same gusto the average irate New Yorker says it with, but it’s funny to me anyway. So let’s set up the scene real quick. Jesus had already resurrected and Simon Peter Johnson (get it, because Peter was the “son of John” in verse 17. hee hee) had gone back to his fishing. I guess he thought his work was done. Anyway Jesus showed up while Peter, John and Thomas were out casting nets one day. Long story short, Jesus ends up telling them where the fish are, they catch 153 of them (like, exactly that number) and Jesus invites them to grab a couple and join him for breakfast.
Once they finished eating, Jesus turned and asked Peter if he loved him (an interesting choice of words for you Calvinists out there). In fact, he asked him this three times, each time followed by a “feed my sheep.” A popular preaching point for this scripture makes note of how Jesus “redeems” or “commissions” Peter three times… the same number of times Peter betrayed his knowledge of Jesus. Anywho, Jesus goes on to foretell the latter years of Peter’s life, and how he’ll need to have some one dress him and lead him around.
… and that’s when Peter was like, “What about that stalker dude that’s eavesdropping on our conversation.” Okay, not really. But John (“the one Jesus loved” per the author, who happens to be John) was apparently creeping, trying to listen in on the conversation. And Peter did ask about what would happen to him.
And that’s when Jesus dropped it. “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
“You’re Worrying About the Wrong Thing”
So what are we to gather from this?
Well, I think it’s pretty simple. God has specific plans for each of us. And though many times we quote and dedicate our children to the ever popular Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” it doesn’t make it so for all of us. In fact, Jesus had just suggested the opposite for Peter. There would be harm for Peter, as history confirms. So why did Jesus come down so hard, so fast on Peter when he asked about what would happen to his fellow disciple? Because, basically it was none of his business. What God had for Peter was for Peter. And what God had for John is for John. And what God has for you and me, is for you and me.
It’s so often that ministry is stifled by our over attentiveness to other ministries, instead of following Jesus’ lead for our ministries. I love Peter because he is the one disciple that is most like I am. Like many of us. We may sometimes ask, “God, I see you allowed this or that thing in my life, but what about that guy? I’m doing the same things he is, but why is he not suffering the way I am?” Or, we’ll try the negative version. “God, I asked for this and that, and you haven’t given it to me. But that guy over there is doing way worse, and he gets all the good stuff.”
Paul can help us here if we look in his letter to the Romans, where he says, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall.” In essence, like a good friend of mine used to say “You worryin’ ’bout the wrong thangs!”
It’s so like us, in our competitive, capitalist culture to compare ourselves. When in reality, God, the ultimate judge, is the only one qualified to truly define goodness and justice. What is “fair” to us, from our very limited perspectives, may not be fair at all to the God of the heavens who sees and knows all.
So then, our job is simple. We must follow Jesus. We must allow him to take the wheel, and we must trust that God knows what He’s doing with us and our ministry, as well as with those ministries at work around us.
What’s it to ya, huh? Man, sometimes Jesus cracks me up in the scriptures. So funny, and yet so profound.