Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You follow me.” — John 21:21-22
Small boys get upset if they suspect they are not getting the same deal as their siblings and friends. They are quick to shout, “Not fair!” Given time, they grow into big men, but that does not necessarily mean they grow out of the tendency to resent anything they suspect is unequal. So millionaire ballplayers want to renegotiate their contracts if a new recruit reportedly signs a better one. Prisoners write letters of complaint about unequal treatment in their places of confinement. And should a man standing in line at an airport see someone cut into the line, he will voice his displeasure in loud and strident tones.
Peter would have been at home in such company. Jesus had told Peter, rather enigmatically, “When you are old you will stretch out your hands, and others will direct you and take you where you don’t want to go” (John 21:18). Peter then noticed John standing nearby and said, “What about him, Lord?” (21:21). Jesus was telling Peter that the future was not going to be pleasant for him, and Peter wanted to know if he was the only one who was going to have a hard time—particularly in comparison to John, who, as everybody knew, had a special relationship with the Lord.
The answer Jesus gave was straight to the point: “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” (21:22). In simple language, that meant that what Jesus decided to do with John was none of Peter’s business! John’s future was strictly between Jesus and John. In the same way, Peter’s future lay in Jesus’ hands and was therefore only of concern to Jesus and Peter. What Jesus had told Peter about his own future was all that Peter needed to know.
Jesus added, “You follow me!” (21:22). In light of the future that Peter was being called to live, he could not afford to allow any distractions from the fundamental and all-consuming call to follow Jesus. That was what he had been challenged to do years earlier beside the lake, and his call had not been rescinded or altered.
Trying to understand God’s ways of dealing with other people can be confusing. We may become disgruntled, but one thing will help. We should let Jesus do His job, which is to lead; and we should do ours, which is to follow. That will keep us on track.
For further study: John 21:1-23
Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.