Jesus Gives It to Us Straight
Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” —John 21:18–19
Today’s passage is an intense private conversation between the Lord and Peter that the apostle John was allowed to overhear. Even though Peter was still very tender from his devastating failure during the events leading up to the crucifixion, when he denied knowing Christ, Jesus welcomed him back.
But it was a welcome accompanied by truth. Jesus had work for him to do. He refused to sugarcoat the reality of the life to which Peter had returned. Jesus basically let him know, “This is going to be hard, Peter. If you’re going to follow Me, the way won’t be easy. Feeding My sheep is going to take everything you’ve got.”
When Jesus said, “Where you do not want to go,” we know what He meant because of John’s side note: “(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.)” Jesus could see what Peter would face in the future and He knew His disciple would endure.
Church history records that in about AD 65 Peter was executed in Rome under orders from Nero. By the end of his life Peter had been on the road for several decades proclaiming the gospel. He had penned a couple of New Testament letters and probably been Mark’s main source for the second gospel. Peter had a great life of serving God, but he had a tough finish.
Following Christ is not easy. Our Lord never hid that fact. But following Him is best. We’re not sugarcoating anything here. The Christian life is not always smooth going, but it is exactly what we were designed to do and be. It’s the real life. It’s the best life you can possibly have: giving your life to Jesus Christ, living for Him, obeying His Word, fellowshiping with His people, and serving in His kingdom.
You don’t know what lies ahead for you. Jesus does. He probably won’t tell you beforehand, except to assure you that whatever happens, He will be with you every step of the way. He has made that promise (Matthew 28:20) and He will keep it.
That’s all you really need to know as you follow Christ. Tell Him you fully intend to let Him lead you as you step out in faith.
- How do you relate to the way Jesus welcomed Peter with more responsibility?
- In what ways have you discovered the truth that following Christ isn’t easy, just the best?
Lord, I realize You demonstrate who You are by asking me without apology to do hard things. You promise to help, but You never minimize the difficulties. Your Son offered us an easy yoke, but it’s still a yoke, and our weaknesses mean we can’t afford to ever forget who is sharing the yoke with us. Thank You that we never have to go through a hard or easy thing apart from You! In Jesus’ name, amen.