Reader: “This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here.”
Response: “And we know that his account of these things is accurate.”
Scripture: John 21:19b-24
Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate.
It is always important to remember at Christmastide that the birth of Jesus ultimately leads to the cross, the resurrection and the ascension and return to heaven. During his time on earth, Jesus repeatedly gave this challenge to his followers, “Follow me.” Short clear words. Following his resurrection and in the portion preceding this section, Jesus has addressed Simon Peter’s denial restoring their relationship. Jesus also tells Simon the manner of his future death. It is at that point that today’s passage begins with the three syllable challenge “follow me.”
From Peter’s comment, “What about him?” (in referring to John who was right behind them), we gain more insight into “follow me.” I can’t help but notice John’s comment about himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.” In fact, his gospel uses this phrase five times. In saying this, he is not saying Jesus doesn’t love the other disciples or that Jesus loves me more than others. What he is saying is that being loved by Jesus is more important than my name. Remember, Peter and John, along with James were the disciples closest to Jesus. (E.g. Mount of Transfiguration, Lk.9:28-36)
Jesus had just told Peter how he was going to die and Peter wanted to know what would happen to John. Would he also die a martyr? Jesus’ response to the “What about him?” question is rather blunt. What happens to John is none of your business. I deal with individual people in unique ways. You just worry about yourself. Your single focus is to follow me. Do my will. That’s it. Jesus continued on, “If I want John to remain alive until I return, what’s that to you?” We are reminded that our lives are in the Lord’s hands. He has numbered our days (Ps.139:16). Follow me today. With humans being human, of course Jesus’ answer was augmented into something he never said as the rumour circulated that John wouldn’t die until Jesus’ second coming. The gossip was not true and John clarified what Jesus actually said.
John was an eye witness as to what he wrote. His gospel was written around 90 AD. According to tradition, John died around 100 AD., an old man surrounded by believers in Ephesus.
Music: “Sing We Now of Christmas” Prestonwood Choir & Orchestra
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKzdaEd6Ths (Prestonwood Baptist, Houston,TX!)
Lord Jesus, your words of “follow me” were so direct. Help me to hear those words every morning when I awake. May I hear them throughout the day and when I lie down at night may I fall asleep knowing I have earnestly tried to follow you all day. Quicken my mind when I get off the path that I may turn around quickly and get back on the way. Keep me from being distracted by what others are doing and help me keep my eyes on you alone. May I hear your words in my heart, “What is that to you? Follow me.” Thank you Lord that I am not here on earth to fend for myself in trying to find my own way on this journey of life. Thank you that you have been where you are leading. Increase my faith day by day. This I pray through Jesus, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, world without end. Amen. ―Daniel Sharp