John 21:20-23, NIV
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 brothers that 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?"


June 22, 2012
Moses had a visual image for this - "turning to the left and to the right."
That's what Peter was doing. Jesus had just wiped the slate clean for
Peter and placed great confidence in him by signaling him out from
the others and personally bestowing upon him a commission that
would require all his leadership skills. And what does Peter do? Instead
of focusing on the magnitude of what Jesus had just stated, Peter
looks at John and questions Jesus about John's future. He "looked to
the right and to the left." He got distracted already.

How easily we all are influenced by what everyone else is doing. It
gets us off course. It wastes our time. It trips us up and leads to
a dead end street.

One of the gospel writers described the attitude of Jesus when he
began his last journey to Jerusalem where he would be crucified. The
phrase he used is that Jesus "set his face" toward Jerusalem. Which
means Jesus did not look to the left nor to the right, but walked
steadfastly toward the cross. That's the example Peter needed to
ponder, instead of thinking about what was going to happen eventually
to his fellow disciples.

Just another incident in Peter's life which makes him seem so real,
so human.

 

June 23, 2012
There's urgency in the voice of Jesus when he told Peter, "You must
follow me." Jesus didn't seem to have a contingency plan. I wonder
about that sometimes. The apostle Paul is another of those characters
that seemed absolutely essential to spreading the message about
Jesus throughout the Roman world. Certain people are so influential,
they affect the course of history.

But it's not only the people in the history books that make a difference
in the world. Everybody can influence another person by the way they
live and respond to the events of life. I have been influenced by parents,
teachers, neighbors, strangers. (Actually all those people "to the left
and to the right"!) Mostly for the good, sometimes not good. But above
all the voices that ring in my ears, I want to always hear the voice of
Jesus, "You must follow me."

"You must follow me" is clear to Peter and to us. What is not clear to
me is about John remaining alive until Jesus returns. He did live to be
a very old man, and may have been the only disciple to do so. How he
escaped the fate of the other disciples I do not know. Maybe that's the
last miracle recorded in this gospel account. There are three epistles
at the end of the Bible which bear his name, plus the book of Revelation.

 

                                             John 21:24, NIV
24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote
them down. We know that his testimony is true.


June 24, 2012
This is a strange-sounding verse and makes me think someone else
may have added this chapter to John's gospel. But at this point in time,
what does it matter who penned these last words.

The disciple John saw all these events described in this gospel and
saved them for us by writing them down. What a loss it would have
been to the Bible as a whole if John had not done so.

The other three gospel writers recorded the events in the life of Jesus
as they saw them, or heard about them from someone who did see
them. They wrote closer to the time they happened. I get the impression
when reading John's gospel that he had a lifetime to think about what it
all meant before he started to write. John interprets what he witnessed.
He adds commentary, such as the verse I have mentioned many times
throughout my journaling and which summarizes John's thinking so
well--For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The gospel message is about God, our heavenly Father who dearly
loves us all and wants nothing more than that we find our way home to
our Father's house where abundance and joy await us.

For any doubters, whoever wrote this final chapter stressed that
John is a reliable witness. He saw it with his own eyes, and his
testimony is true. Long after all the others who walked and talked with
Jesus had died, John remained alive. He was the last surviving primary
source. All else was secondary.

John was a writer. I wonder if he was aware of that in his previous
occupation as he fished the waters of Galilee?

 

                                             John 21:25, NIV
25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were
written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not
have room for the books that would be written.


June 25, 2012
This last chapter of John's gospel is about abundance. An abundance
of fish. An abundance of grace. In the final verse, an abundance of
experiences in the life of Jesus, so many, if they were all written down
there would not be room in this world to hold all the pages!

We are not told what happened to the 153 fish. Add them up by the
pound and it would have been quite a lot of income when sold.

We do know there was a return on the grace. Jesus believed in his
disciples and they did not fail him. They were faithful and bore testimony
throughout the Roman world. 2000 years later, new disciples of Jesus
are still repeating the message throughout the earth in a variety of ways.
The Word continues to speak, to reveal, to invite everyone to believe
and receive eternal life.

There's an old southern gospel hymn which says, "This world is not
my home, I'm just a passing through. . . . " We're just passing through
on our way to our Father's house. I, for one, get caught up in "looking to
my left and to my right." That's when I question and complain and lament
all that's wrong with our world. I wonder where are the children of God?
And why have God's people not been more influential in establishing
righteousness on the earth? Maybe it's just a matter of evil being more
noticeable. Or maybe the people who bear Christ's name do not convey
a gracious spirit.

Whether we should have the mindset of passing through a temporary
situation or that of living here with responsibility for our circumstances
makes for a good debate. Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy kingdom come
on earth as it is in heaven." Which implies we can make some heaven
on earth while we are here.

The eternal life John wrote about is a gift awaiting a heart and hand
that will believe and receive it and also share it. Eternal life begins now
and because it is eternal, it can never end.

Present tense; future tense. Every Christian decides for themselves
which will take precedence in their own life. But in keeping with the last
verse of this book, I want to keep my eyes of faith open so I can see
the abundant ways in which Jesus is still alive and active. Nourished
by the Bread of Life, walking and talking with my Good Shepherd,
I want to believe and receive--today, tomorrow, forever.

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