Scripture: Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.
John 13:36-38 ESV [Click here to read the entire chapter.]
Observation: Recapping Yesterday’s Daily Focus, turning his attention to the culmination of his ministry, Jesus announces to the Eleven that the appointed time of his glorification has come—and his Father, who is one with him, will be glorified through him. Compassionately addressing his disciples as little children, Jesus warns them that he will leave them to go where they cannot follow (alluding to his arrest, burial, and eventual ascension to the Father). So they will carry on his mission under a new command: “Love one another.” The world will see and understand that they are his disciples when they obey his declaration.
For today’s reading, Peter questions Jesus’ comment that his disciples cannot follow where he is going, inquiring where Jesus intends to go. Jesus reiterates his previous statement and adds that Peter will follow him afterward—referring to Peter similarly taking the path of martyrdom in service to Christ (see John 21:19). Once again, naive and enthusiastic, Peter boldly declares that he will even die to follow Jesus. Jesus sharply questions Peter’s bold vow and sadly informs Peter he will soon do the opposite and deny his association with Jesus three times before the rooster crows (i.e., at the light of dawn).
Takeaway: This is not the first time Jesus talked about going away. Indeed, he pronounced to the Pharisees at an earlier feast that he would go away, and they would seek him to no avail and die in their sins (John 8:21). Here, though, Peter and the other ten will succeed in seeking the risen Christ and find new life with the forgiveness of sins. Moreover, as the Holy Spirit regenerates them, Christ indwells them. Matthew’s historical account of the Great Commission corroborates this understanding, for Jesus promised to always be with his disciples to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
Our takeaway? As future generations of believers, Paul contends that Christ indwells us—to serve as his ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). Indeed, we are:
- Indwelled with Christ (v.17)
- New creations (v.17)
- Reconciled to the Father (v.18)
- Awarded a ministry of reconciliation to the world (v.18)
- Ambassadors for Christ (v.19-20)
- Spokespersons for God (v.20)
How so? Because Jesus, who knew no sin, bore our sins in his body so that we might become the righteousness of God (v.21). With this marvelous exchange, Peter and the rest of us who believe God has saved us by grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8) can rest assured that even when we deny Christ under duress, there is always room for restoration when we confess our sins and trust the gift of Jesus’ substitutionary death is enough. And he will be with us each step of the way. So, like Peter, follow Jesus, and he will lead us from death (of our self-centered ways) to renewal (as other-centered ambassadors of his glorious Gospel).
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, who knew no sin but became sin for us so that we might inherit his righteousness. Still, many obstacles in this Christian journey derail us. So would you please help us stay on course, following your Son to the end of ourselves and the beginning of new life as his Ambassadors? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling