May 30, 2020 (Saturday) - Eyes Straight Ahead - A Reflection on John 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” So the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

I love this passage. It is funny. And it teaches us a great lesson. To give you the background, Jesus appears to Peter for the third time since the resurrection. After a breakfast of fish, which Jesus cooks, he asks Peter three times if he loves him. And each time Peter answers that he does, Jesus tells him to do something. The first time he says, “Feed my lambs.” The second time he says, “Tend my sheep.” And the third time he says, “Feed my sheep.” In effect, he is restoring and recommissioning Peter, who messed up badly with his denial of Jesus.

Then, Jesus tells Peter to follow him, and the two set off. As they are walking, Peter turns and sees John following them. He asks Jesus what he is going to do about John. I am really surprised Jesus doesn’t conk him one on the head. He has just given Peter a monumental task to accomplish, and Peter was concerning himself with Jesus’ plans for John. “What business is that of yours?”, Jesus asks Peter bluntly. And I think Peter got the message. Now, I don’t know if you realize this, but we are so much like Peter.

God has given all of us something to do. But, instead of doing what he has asked us to do, we are too busy looking at what he has asked somebody else to do. And because the grass invariably seems greener on the other side, we believe the other person has been specially favored and we have been shortchanged. Oye! God doesn’t short change anybody. Like the house owner in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30), he has given each of us as much as he believes we can handle. If we do the job that he has given us, he will give us more. But if we don’t, he won’t.

Now, I can pretty much guarantee you that we will not be able to do the job he has given us if we got our eyes on somebody else. One, because we will spend too much time looking at what they are doing instead of concentrating on what we should be doing. Two, we will waste a lot of emotional energy feeling resentful and jealous. Three, if we aren’t able to control our resentment and jealousy, we will engage in slander, or worse. The word ‘slander’ derives from the greek word ‘diabolos’, from which we get the word diabolical, which refers to Satan. Get the point?

So, let us not look at not fix our gaze on other people, or concern ourselves with God’s plans for them. He’s got a plan for all of us, and it might be a good idea to spend some time with him this week, trying to find out what those plans are. If you want the general plan, I can point you in the right direction. It’s contained in Matthew 28:18-20. And it says, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, go make disciples of all nations .. Go ahead and read the rest

Eyes straight ahead now!