Friday, February 24, 2012

John 21 18 to 25

18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

Key Observation:
Jesus foretells the manner of Peter’s death.

Again, I do not see a rebuke in the words of Jesus here. Instead, I think that what I see is sort of a backwards compliment. Peter has been reticent to lift himself up, and is deeply humbled. The Lord tells Peter that Peter will indeed be like unto his Lord, following him with a similar crucifixion. Though the message is stunning, it is also comforting in the sense that the Lord is saying that Peter will be like Him. He will be spending his life to “feed my sheep.”

Now, is it not just like Peter to ask Jesus about John, wanting to know whether John was going to die a violent death? Jesus remarks that it is none of his business. I take great comfort in Peter’s question because it shows that his basic personality is still there. My Lord does not want so much to change what I am, as to change whom I am looking at. Peter was now looking to his Lord, and shirking any idea of boasting. It is ludicrous that some have sought to elevate Peter to the office of pope, as he was still a man of like nature, full of error, and needful of grace. While he was later to be found leading many in Jerusalem, Paul himself (Galatians) had to reprove Peter yet again for not walking in the grace to which he was called. When I read Luther’s treatment of Galatians, I find it humorous that Galatians is one of Luther’s favorite books, since Paul here is pictured rebuking the first pope. No wonder Luther, who rebuked his own pope constantly, found it to be his favorite book! Tradition, of course, teaches that Peter requested to be crucified upside down, as he thought himself unfit to be like his Lord, even in this act.

I do wish we had not been so bent historically on following the traditions of men. The book of Second Thessalonians teaches us to hold fast to the traditions that were handed down to us, not at all meaning that we should follow traditions that had not even been developed yet. I wish in this respect that all men were like I am—if I cannot find it in my Bible I am exceedingly skeptical about the worthiness of whatever tradition or doctrine that might be taught. In my opinion, the best of what the Reformers offered us was a renewed emphasis on what is actually there, rather than what is invented in the minds of men, no matter how excellent their motives may be. It was no small feat of courage and wisdom to provide the Bible in the common language as did both Tyndale and Luther.

John closes a bit uncertainly with my Lord asking the question of John, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” I believe that to be done deliberately because there are some things that we are not meant to know, but rather we are asked to have faith in Him who saved us. If all the things that Jesus ever did were written down there would be no end to books, and I suppose there would be no end to knowledge either, since we are studying the infinite God when we study Jesus. In 1 Corinthians, Paul teaches us that “then we shall know even as we also are known.” For me that is sufficient. Is it for you?

Christ Arose

1. Low in the grave He lay,
Jesus, my Savior!
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus, my Lord!

2. Vainly they watch His bed,
Jesus, my Savior!
Vainly they seal the dead,
Jesus my Lord!

3. Death cannot keep his prey,
Jesus, my Savior!
He tore the bars away,
Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes;
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever With His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Lyrics: Robert Wadsworth Lowry

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