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‘Follow Me’

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“Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’” John 21:22 (ESV)

John’s account of the life of Jesus does not end with the death, burial and resurrection. John continues to record appearances of the resurrected Jesus and His interactions with His disciples.

In John chapter 21, we encounter Jesus with His disciples along the shores of the sea of Galilee, in a sense, where it all began. Peter has led at least six of the disciples back to the fishing boats, back to the familiar — even though Jesus had commissioned them to share His message with the world.

In this encounter, Jesus has reinstated Peter from being His denier to a loving follower and a leader of His people, telling Peter to “feed my lambs,” “tend my sheep,” and “feed my sheep.”

Jesus then confirms that Peter will fulfill his promise to die for Jesus (John 13:36), implying that Peter would be crucified, and finally concluding with the command to “Follow me.”

Apparently, they are no longer sitting but walking, as Peter looks behind and sees John following. And Peter then seems to ask, “What about John, will he be crucified too?” This is the context we find the words of Jesus from verse 22 above.

We often become distracted as we read Jesus’ response. We get caught up in the “IF” statement rather than the command that follows. We get caught up in this hypothetical statement, which may possibly be an exaggeration made by Jesus.

But this is a message for Peter, and us: “You follow me!” “Follow me!” is an imperative, a command. Jesus adds the unnecessary pronoun “You” for emphasis. The grammar here is “You [Peter], follow me!”

In other words, “It doesn’t matter what I am calling John to do. It doesn’t matter whether I call him to be crucified or not; I, Jesus, am calling you, Peter, to do this. Keep your eyes on me!! Do what I have called YOU to do!”

We, just like John and Peter, are both called to the same general commands of Jesus:

“…love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Matt 22:37,39)

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt 28:19)

Yet, we are each called to live a specific life unique to us alone. This is the point that Jesus is making to Peter, and ourselves.

Do you ever get caught up, looking at someone else’s walk with Jesus, instead of keeping your eyes on Jesus and what he has specifically called you to do because of your gifting and talents given to you by Jesus?

We are called to live our lives on mission, to fulfill the calling Jesus has given each of us. Make sure you are reading His word. It is there we hear His voice most clearly. Listen to Jesus: “You, follow me!”

By Bill Emmerling

Pastor-Gallup Christian Church