Wednesday 27 December 2017

Bible Book:

“After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” (v. 19)

John 21:19b-25 Wednesday 27 December 2017

Psalm: Psalm 117


Today’s passage begins with the very end of the story of the restoration of Peter. After Peter did as Jesus prophesied (denying Jesus three times (John 18:15-18, 25-27) Jesus restores him with three opportunities for Peter to affirm his love for Jesus and be renewed in his mission/purpose (‘to feed the sheep’ (verse 17)). Jesus then makes it clear that it isn’t going to be easy (even pointing to death as a martyr) before ending with this instruction “follow me”. At this point what it means to follow Jesus must be clearer to Peter than ever before, just as it is today. This is not a call to follow Jesus, an itinerant preacher on a tour of Israel. It is a call to follow the Jesus who chooses to go to the cross and has been raised from the dead. This is a call to faithful living where there is no space for denial or Peter’s own ways, but the Jesus way of love and self-sacrifice.

To his credit, Peter doesn’t shy away from this fuller understanding of what it is to follow Jesus and what he specifically is being called to and can expect.

However, Peter is still Peter and so he seems to get distracted by the other disciple. His question doesn’t seem to be about hesitation nor the old worries about status. It doesn’t seem to be particularly of concern but more of interest – ‘How does he fit into this?’. The response is a challenge to not speculate about the future but simply to follow Jesus (a challenge very relevant today, especially as we prepare for a new year).

It may be that the whole reference to the other disciple is a storytelling device by the Gospel writer wanting to bridge to his own situation, trying to correct rumours about his future.

The end of the Gospel is a repeat of the reminder from John 20:30-31 that it is not intended to be an exhaustive life history, again something frequently ignored.

To Ponder

  • What do you think are the most significant changes to Peter’s understanding of “follow me” since the Last Supper?
  • If you could have had a longer Gospel of John, what would you most want to find there?
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