John 13:36-38 The Truth Hurts
We are still with Jesus and His disciples during their last meal together. Jesus has just told His disciples that they can’t go where He is going. Peter, as usual, has something to say about that.
In so many places in the gospels we hear how Peter is the first to say something, and then the other disciples join in. If I were to guess I would say that Peter was the unofficial spokesman of the group. Tonight is no exception.
After Jesus shared that He was going somewhere they couldn’t come, Peter wants to know where that could possibly be. “Lord, where are You going?” (verse 36). Such a simple question but so much more behind it. Peter is not just curious, he is challenging Jesus’ statement. Peter is adamant that he will be by Jesus’ side at all times. Jesus predicted His death during this visit to Jerusalem. Wherever Jesus goes, Peter plans to go too.
Jesus recognizes Peter’s determination but He also knows Peter’s future. The best part of that knowing though is that He knows Peter’s immediate future as well as his distant one. Jesus shares Peter’s distant future with him first. “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward” (verse 36). Peter would follow Jesus in persecution and death, but not right now. He still had some growing to do first.
Peter wasn’t listening for his distant future. He is thinking about the “now” in Jesus’ statement. He believes he is ready now for whatever lies ahead. “You said I could go there later, but I’m ready NOW!” He didn’t want to leave Jesus’ side. What if something happened while He was away? How would Peter live with that? “There’s nowhere I wouldn’t go to be with You, even if it means my death. I’ll follow You anywhere.”
Now it’s time for Jesus to share Peter’s immediate future with him. Such bold claims require confrontation. Peter needs to know that Jesus knows him and his future. “Will you lay down your life for me? Listen closely as I tell you the absolute truth. You will deny me three times before the rooster even crows this morning.”
That hurt! This is not the first time Jesus has spoken so directly with Peter. Is it because that is the only way Peter really hears Him? Or is it so Jesus’ words will lodge so deeply in Peter’s spirit that they cannot be forgotten?
The time Jesus rebuked Peter for rebuking Him sticks out most clearly in my mind. That was when Jesus first shared with His disciples that He was going to be killed. Today’s rebuke ties right in with that event. Both were Peter speaking against God’s plan. Both times also involved Satan. The first was Satan influencing Peter’s words and the second was Satan testing Peter’s mettle. We know how that test went, but PRAISE GOD it didn’t end there! I’m getting ahead of our story so I’m going to stop here with Peter feeling like he can conquer any foe for Jesus and Jesus knowing the truth.
Lord Jesus, what is my “Peter moment?” Have I had it already or is it still coming? Peter didn’t stop with just one “moment” and neither have I. I’m glad You know my future too. Thank You that I know the rest of Peter’s story too. The fact that You forgave him and restored him after his greatest fall. Thank You that You used that fall to create the Peter who would be able to stand in the fire. I wonder what he would say if he told me his story one day. Would he try and gloss over his failure or would he point it out and share how You restored him so fully? Thank You Lord for Peter’s example. An imperfect man used mightily by You. His story gives me hope for my life too.