Will I Ever Change?

July 13, 2017

John 21:18-23

18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believersthat this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

CONSIDER THIS

“What is that to you?”

This is the fancy way of what I say to my kids almost every day. In our house we say, “It’s not a competition.”

It comes up almost daily with our 8 and 6 year olds. Every scoop of ice cream must be measured for exact sameness, not an ounce more or less than the other one. If I could erase one phrase from my kid’s vocabulary it would be, “But it’s not fair!”

“What is that to you?”

Jesus drops this rebuke on Peter right after he has restored him, and after he tells Peter that he will die a martyr. No small thing to suddenly comprehend, for sure. But Peter’s immediate response, after all he has seen and heard, is to ask, “Yeah, but what about him?”

“What is that to you?”

This is Jesus saying, “It’s not a competition.” But for Peter it has been a competition… which was really a search for status. As we saw back in John 13, when Jesus washed his disciples feet, Peter tried to stand out and establish himself as distinct or set apart from the rest.

But we must remember that this sin of pride in Peter comes from his broken nature. And before we can judge Peter for still not “getting it,” we must remember we are no different. I will go out on a limb and say most of you reading this have had a significant encounter with Christ; a life changing moment, experience, or maturing… only to find yourself standing in the middle of some recurring sin, habit, or struggle. And all the while, we do more damage when we look to what someone else has or is doing and say, “Why can’t I have what they have or be like them?” (tip: Instagram really doesn’t help with this)

“What is that to you?”

This is not said in the angry frustration of a tired parent, but in the Holy Love of the Son of a perfect Father.

This is why, as Wesleyans, we believe in sanctifying grace. We are saved, but we are also being saved. We have encountered Jesus on our own beach, and he has called us his own, but we are not fully there yet. We still look back and say, “Yeah, but what about that?”

“What is that to you?”

To close today, I’m going to let my favorite poet and theologian, Bono, have the final word on this:

“Your nature is a hard thing to change. It takes time… I’ve heard of people having life changing, miraculous turn-arounds, people set free from addiction after a single prayer, relationships saved where both parties ‘let go and let God.’ But it was not like that for me. For all that ‘I was lost, I am found,’ it is probably more accurate to say, ‘I was really lost, I’m a little less so at the moment.’ And then a little less and a little less again. That to me is the spiritual life…. It has taken years, and it is not over yet.”

THE PRAYER

Heavenly Father, thank you that you do not treat us as our sins deserve. Stir the Holy Spirit in us as you recreate us more and more into the image of your Son Jesus Christ. In his name we prayer, amen.

THE QUESTIONS

1. Why is it easier to look to what someone else is or isn’t doing than at our own issues or sins?
2. What in your life are you “saved but still being saved” from?
3. How can you extend the grace of Christ to others in the same situation?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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