JOHN 21:19-25 THIS HE SPOKE, SIGNIFYING BY WHAT DEATH HE WOULD GLORIFY GOD. AND WHEN HE HAD SPOKEN THIS, HE SAID TO HIM, “FOLLOW ME.”

31May

John 21:19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me." 20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?"  21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, "But Lord, what about this man?" 22 Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me." 23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?" 24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

 A committed Christian’s will is content with following.

 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me."2Pe 1:14

Follow Me” This is a PRESENT ACTIVE IMPERATIVE as is v.22. This is related to the renewal and reaffirmation of Peter’s call to leadership

Our Lord’s words, “Follow Me!” must have brought new joy and love to Peter’s heart. Literally, Jesus said, “Keep on following Me.” Immediately, Peter began to follow Jesus, just as he had done before his great denial.

Peter later wrote that Christians who follow Jesus Christ faithfully to the point of dying for Him bring glory to God by their deaths

1Pe 4:14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

He lived with this prediction hanging over him for three decades

2Pe 1:14 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.

Notice that Jesus does much more than predict Peter’s death. John wishes us to understand that Jesus went so far as to predict the way in which Peter would die: “(Now Jesus said this to indicate clearly by what kind of death Peter was going to glorify God.)” (verse 19). Peter’s previous effort to resist the arrest of Jesus was contrary to the gospel, and this is why Jesus rebuked him and abruptly ordered him to stop resisting His arrest. The death which Peter will experience is a death that will glorify God. Jesus also indicates that Peter will die in his old age, and thus he is informed that his death is not imminent. But his death for the Savior’s sake is certain: Notice it says that his death would glorify God. How? Because anybody who dies for their faith in Jesus Christ is a glory to God.

I agree with those who see here a prophecy that Peter truly will follow Jesus, by dying on a Roman cross:

More important is the way stretch out your hands was understood in the ancient world: it widely referred to crucifixion (Haenchen, 2. 226-227). … Bauer (p. 232) proposed long ago that this ‘stretching’ took place when a condemned prisoner was tied to his cross-member and forced to carry his ‘cross’ to the place of execution. The cross-member would be placed on the prisoner’s neck and shoulders, his arms tied to it, and then he would be led away to death.

The words, “Follow Me,” constitute the first calling of the disciples (Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17; John 1:43). As time passed, these words took on a much deeper meaning. Following Jesus meant putting Jesus above family (Matthew 8:22). It meant a whole new way of life, where former practices would be unacceptable (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:14). Before long, Jesus let His disciples know that following Him meant taking up one’s cross (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34). (At this point in time, our Lord’s reference to “taking up one’s cross” was, at best, understood symbolically.) For the rich young ruler, it meant giving up his possessions (Matthew 19:21; Mark 20:21). And now, for Peter, it means not only carrying on the Master’s work, but taking up a very literal cross. It would seem that at every point where following Jesus is more precisely defined, another challenge to follow Him is given. So it is in our text.

I fear that Christians today understand these two words, “Follow me,” in a superficial way. When Paul writes, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), we interpret his words in a somewhat self-indulgent fashion. We suppose that Paul means living as a Christian is glorious, trouble-free, and fulfilling. It is, to put it plainly, “the good life.” In other words, we get to live it up here, and then when we die, it gets even better. There is a certain sense in which this is true. But we must understand Paul’s words in the light of what Jesus is telling Peter here, in our text, about following Him.

To follow Christ is to walk in His steps, to live as He lived, to serve others as He did, and to lay down your life for the sheep, like Him. In Philippians chapter 1, Paul is therefore saying, “For me, to live is to live just as Christ did, taking up my cross daily, laying down my life for His sheep.”

"Obedience to Jesus' command, Follow Me, is the key issue in every Christian's life. As Jesus followed the Father's will, so His disciples should follow their Lord whether the path leads to a cross or to some other difficult experience."

Peter got the message. He was willing to lay down his life for the Savior.

Do you know what Jesus is saying to him here? "Peter, you're going to grow old, “because He says, "When you’re old, so you're going to have a full life, Peter. And when it comes to the end of your life, you're going to be crucified."

That means, to Peter, that when it comes down to the crux at that hour, he's going to confess Christ and die for Him, right? Now don't you think that's good news to Peter who last time he had a chance to die for Jesus blew it? And so He says, "Peter, I'm going to give you another chance, you're going to live a full life and then at the end you're going to hang in there, it's going to come down to a life/death issue and you're going to stand up and say I believe in Jesus boldly and you're going to die for it." Now I can imagine the thrills were shooting up Peter's back like crazy because he was going to get a chance to prove his love for Jesus.

Peter committed his life to Christ and Christ said, "Peter, you'll live for Me and you'll die nailed to a cross." That's the destiny that God had designed for Peter. That's a beautiful promise. O Peter I'm sure in his heart just was saying over and over again...if I only had another chance...if I only had another chance to show the Lord I could be faithful in a crucial situation...if I only had one more chance to show Him my love in a life/death thing, O I'd do it, I'd do it. And so the Lord says, "Peter, you'll do it...you'll do it." And, you know, it's a good thing He told Peter cause Peter would have lived his whole life a nervous wreck thinking that every time he came to a real issue he'd blow it. And a leader with no confidence is no leader at all. And the Lord knew that Peter would worry himself about this so the Lord says, "Peter, you can relax through your whole ministry. When it comes to the end, you'll proclaim My name, you'll die a crucifixion death, don't worry about it."

  1. Following Jesus means being where He is. Jesus said in John 12:26 that, "If any man serve Me, let him follow Me that where I am, there will My servant be also." In other words, Jesus wants servants to go where He goes. That's the first thing about following. You go where He goes. Real simple. And in all the days of your life, in all the circumstances of your life, in all the places of your life, in all the relationships of your life, you should be able to say when asked, "Why are you here?" I'm here because I'm following Jesus and this is where He's led me today.
  2. Following Jesus means to pattern our lives after His attitudes. His holiness and His purity and His obedience to God becomes the pattern for us. Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, "Be ye perfect even as I am perfect." We are to pattern our lives after Him. As He was faithful to the Father and obedient, so are we to be faithful and obedient..
  3. Thirdly, following Jesus means a willingness to suffer sacrifice for His sake. That's the nitty-gritty. Are you willing to do that? In Matthew 16 Jesus said, "If any man follow Me, take up his cross," right, "and follow Me." Now that's talking about the suffering sacrificial side of following Jesus.

But what does it mean to take up your cross, to bear your cross? in those days the victims of crucifixion bore the crossbeam of their own cross on their back as they marched to crucifixion. And in Matthew, as this was being spoken, the people in Galilee would well understand it because when the Roman General Varus had broken the revolt of Judas of Galilee, he crucified as a punishment two thousand Jews and he placed their crosses along all the roads leading through Galilee so that everywhere that everybody went they saw people hanging on crosses, two thousand of them. And all these people had borne the crossbeam on their back to their own death.

What Jesus is saying here is that means to be willing to sacrifice yourself for a cause. That's what it means. And Jesus is saying the same thing, are you willing to sacrifice everything you hold dear, everything you love, all the stupid little things that occupy your time, all your dreams and all your ambitions to be obedient to His cause? That's the real issue.

20 ¶ Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?" Joh 13:23,25; 20:2

 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, "But Lord, what about this man?"

22 Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me."

Mt 16:27-28; 25:31; 1Co 4:5; 11:26; Re 2:25; 3:11; 22:7,20

"Follow...you follow Me, Peter." What does He mean? He means, "Peter, get your eyes off of everybody else," like Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:16, I love this, "Take heed unto thyself."

  1. Following Jesus means Peter’s job was to follow, not to meddle into the lives of other believers. Beware when you get your eyes off the Lord and start to look at other Christians! “Looking unto Jesus” should be the aim and practice of every believer (Heb. 12:1–2). To be distracted by ourselves, our circumstances, or by other Christians, is to disobey the Lord and possibly get detoured out of the will of God. Keep your eyes of faith on Him and on Him alone.

This does not mean that we ignore others, because we do have the responsibility of caring for one another (Phil. 2:1–4). Rather, it means that we must not permit our curiosity about others to distract us from following the Lord. God has His plan for us; He also has plans for our Christian friends and associates. How He works in their lives is His business. Our business is to follow Him as He leads us (see Rom. 14:1–13).

But why was Jesus singling him out? What about the rest? What about John? At some point, it appears that Jesus and Peter have gone off by themselves, apart from the others. Verse 20 seems to indicate that Jesus and Peter are walking by themselves, with John following behind, at a distance. Peter turns around and sees John, some distance away. He and John had been closely associated in the fishing business, and even as disciples. Later, they will work very closely together as apostles, as we see in the Book of Acts. Peter could not resist asking Jesus about John’s fate. If Peter had to die to follow Jesus, was this also true of John? Peter seems to have the same attitude toward suffering. If he had to suffer, then surely John should be expected to suffer in just the same way, for the same period of time

This description highlights his intimacy with Jesus. That intimacy was evidently a factor in Jesus’ plans for John to which He proceeded to refer (vv. 22-24). These plans included his writing this Gospel (v. 24). Therefore by presenting the writer as an intimate of Jesus, John was establishing his credentials as a reliable eyewitness of what he reported. A second reason is that this description also reminds the reader of John’s intimacy with Peter. This helps us understand Peter’s question about Jesus’ will for John. Peter evidently wanted to know what would happen to his young friend if he himself was going to suffer crucifixion.

 23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”

  1. Following Jesus means people play their parts and God puts it all together.

Peter was guilty of giving too much attention to John, when our Lord had narrowed the focus of the discussion to Peter’s love, and Peter’s service. Jesus further indicated to Peter that he would glorify his Master by his death, a death that was similar to His death, a death by crucifixion. Peter had fixed his attention on John. From John’s words here, we know that others erred in the same way Peter had. It was a popular misconception that Jesus promised John that he would not die until His return. It was only that—a popular misconception—and John corrects it here.

  1. Following Jesus means we are not here to compete with each other. Here we have the problem of rivalry and competition in the church. The Gospels clearly indicate that Jesus eliminated competition as a motivation for Christian activity. But it is rare to find that in practice today. The church has followed the world in this regard, competing and struggling within itself, thereby diminishing its message, and often destroying its effectiveness. Jesus says we do not have to worry about what others are doing, but to be faithful to what God has given us to do; he will put it all together.

This is how the church should operate. We are to fulfill the gifts God has given us. He will put it together. We are not in competition with anybody; we do not have to struggle for position. We each have been given a ministry, not only leaders, preachers and teachers, but to everyone has been given the gifts of the Spirit, and they define our ministry.

The twelfth chapter of First Corinthians indicates there are two things we must never say: Because we have gifts given us by the Lord, we must never say to anybody, "I have no need of you," (1 Corinthians 12:21). But how many times we hear that in the church: "We have no need of you. We can get along fine." I have heard churches boast that they had no need of any other church because they had adequate resources of their own. But that is not in accord with the mind of the Lord.

The second thing we must never say is, "You have no need of me. I as so ungifted, so poor, I have nothing to offer." You cannot say that. You have gifts which the Spirit of God has given to you and you alone. Thus we must not look at one another and ask, "Lord, what do you want to do with him?" Jesus' word is, "That is none of your business. Follow me. I will put it all together."

The reference to Jesus’ return is probably a reference to the Rapture rather than the Second Coming in view of what Jesus had promised these disciples in 14:1-3.

By the time John was writing this Gospel, Peter was probably already dead. If this is the case, then what is John’s purpose in writing about this incident? It is clearly not for Peter’s benefit. John tells us his reason for writing about this. It was to clear up the misconception some had that John would not die before the coming of our Lord. Jesus did not say that John would be alive at His return. He simply told Peter that if it was His will that he (Peter) die, and that John remain alive until His return, that was of no concern to Peter—it was none of his business. Death, like everything else, falls within the boundaries of our Lord’s sovereign control of all things. If death is God’s business, His sovereign business, then it is not Peter’s business to raise questions about John’s death. 

John himself is not so taken with himself. John keeps the focus on our Lord, and on the truths He spoke.

  1. Following Jesus means Our eyes should not be on ourselves, but on Christ. Our focus should not be on what others are doing for Christ, or what God is doing for them. Our focus should be on Him, and on our love for Him, as shown by our loving service to His flock.

This is the “Great Commission” of John’s Gospel. It is certainly different from the Great Commission of Matthew’s. But when you stop to think about it, the point of both Gospels is the same. Matthew emphasizes the authority of our Lord, and the Lord’s command to make disciples. John focuses on our love for the Lord, and the privilege we have to show our love for Him by caring for those He loves, in a way that is consistent with His sacrificial death at Calvary. How simple, how beautiful that is! How effective the church would become if we would but return to it.

The last word here is for both the fisherman and the shepherd: We rest upon a reliable testimony.

  1. Following Jesus means our words are concerned with Jesus.

 24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. Joh 19:35; 3Jo 1:12,14

So, the beloved disciple is identified, ‘these things’ refer to the gospel. We have this very curious plural ‘we’. What’s going on here? Is John schizophrenic as he finishes the book? “We, me, myself, we write this.”

The early church probably endorsed this letter somehow, this gospel. In fact, some believe that the church at Ephesus was the church that was involved in John’s assembly of the Gospel, and they said, “Yes, we’ve seen those things and we know that what John has borne witness of is true, and so we agree with these things.”

This description of the writer stresses the reliability of his witness. "These things" probably refers to the whole Gospel, not just what immediately precedes.

 25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. Am 7:10; Joh 20:30

This  final  verse  along  with  the  one  preceding  it  returns  to  the  broad perspective with which this Gospel began in its prologue (1:1-18). The prologue presents the Word humbling Himself and entering the world in incarnation. This verse presents the world as not able to contain all the revelation that the Word made. John's final word was that what he wrote, and what everyone else could write, would be only a small part of what could be written to bring honor to Jesus Christ.

John has been very selective in what he has chosen to present as evidence in favor of his conclusion that Jesus is, indeed, the Son of God and the Savior of the world. And in his final words, John testifies that the words of this book are “the gospel truth.” It is not for lack of evidence that men are eternally lost. John has now set the evidence before his readers, and he urges each of us to draw the conclusions this evidence merits.

  • Obedience to Jesus’ command, Follow Me, is the key issue in every Christian’s life. As Jesus followed the Father’s will, so His disciples should follow their Lord whether the path leads to a cross or to some other difficult experience.
  • The false rumor about Jesus’ words to Peter show the possibility of misunderstanding God’s promises. Christians must seek to understand God’s Word accurately.
  • Peter and John have been off the scene (except for their books) for centuries, but you and I are still here. We are taking His place and taking their place. What a responsibility! What a privilege!
  • We can succeed only as we permit Him to transform us.
  • The verdict is clear. You should believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah—the Christ—and that by His sinless life and sacrificial death, your sins may be forgiven. And having believed the verdict, you should not only be overcome with His love for you, but you should be compelled by your love for Him, to serve Him as you shepherd His lambs. The evidence abounds; the verdict is clear. The question that remains is this: Given this evidence, how will you respond to Jesus Christ?

 Could we with ink the ocean fill,

  And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

  And every man a scribe by trade,

To write the love of God above

  Would drain the ocean dry.

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

  Though stretched from sky to sky.

He was saying you can't write about God's love, the whole universe couldn't handle it.

 Mark 8:36 "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

 John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. Have you trusted Him as your Savior? He can Save you if You ask Him based on His death, burial, and resurrection for your sins. Believe in Him for forgiveness of your sins today.

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“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  -John 8:32

The world is trying to solve earthly problems that can only be solved with heavenly solutions.