The last two words of verse 19 in this chapter of John were “Follow me.” These two words are repeated by Jesus in many places throughout the New Testament and we see in this section just how focused and how important it is that we heed these two words of Jesus Christ.
These two words go to the heart of Christianity and in particular the roots of salvation. If we truly want to be with Christ and to live in the kingdom of God, then the only way we are going to get there is to follow Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) So it stands to reason that if we want to be with both Jesus and the Father we need to do what Jesus said, “Follow me.”
So let us now look at what Jesus was saying to Peter in this section as there is an important message in His words.
After The Lord had spoken to Peter and commissioned him to teach, preach and pastor the flock when Jesus returned to the Father, Peter saw John and asked The Lord saying, “Lord, what about this man?” (Vs 21) Peter was asking Jesus what His plans were for the apostle John.
Jesus’ response was quite fascinating for He said, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (Vs 22)
In essence He told Peter it was none of his business what The Lord was doing or going to do with John. For that matter it is no ones business what The Lord is doing with anyone else, either back then or today. The Lord told Peter in no uncertain terms that Peters only responsibility was for him to follow Jesus.
Now when we understand this it is quite a freeing thing. Many, many people are worried and concerned about the eternal salvation of family and friends and constantly try to convince them of the need to find Jesus. And there is nothing wrong with seeking the best for family and friends in this way for we would all like to see our loved ones find the pathway to God through Jesus Christ.
But when it becomes an obsession or when it causes us to worry beyond what could be considered normal, it goes too far. When we come to the place where Peter felt concerned for the future of John, we need to listen again to the words of Jesus.
Only Jesus Saves
Only Jesus saves. We cannot save a single soul. We cannot even save ourself. Only Jesus saves. We all need to get that message through our heads because when we think we can save another person we are wrong.
As Jesus said to Peter, if it was His will that John should live forever, what is that to you? And so today, if it is The Lord’s will that your friend or loved one should come to Him through something you say or something someone else says, what is that to you? And also if that person makes the ultimate bad choice to reject The Lord as some will do, what is that to you?
Sure you will be upset and disappointed, but you do not know what The Lord is doing in the life of another person. You do not know what path The Lord is taking another person down to bring them to a place where they may hopefully make a decision to come to Him.
What is important is between you and The Lord. Follow me, He said. That is your number one priority. It is not to win souls, it is not to preach to the ends of the earth and it is not to do mighty works. Your number one priority is to follow Christ Jesus because if you don’t, then you too will be lost.
And in this modern world it is harder than ever to heed these two words of Jesus Christ. Look at what is happening in the churches today.
Christianity or Marketing?
It is unfortunate today that there are many people who call themselves Christians but do not heed these two words of Jesus Christ. There are movements in Christianity today that have more in common with modern marketing than the truth of Jesus Christ.
Marketers of products are always looking for the “next big thing.” Once they have a product on the market they need to continuously improve, update and add new features to hold onto or grow market share.
It strikes me that modern Christianity is going through those same motions. I look back especially at evangelical and Pentecostal groups over the years and what I see is the same process that marketers use to build a brand or a product. Jesus has become a brand to them and they are trying to add new benefits and new features to the brand that they call Jesus to make Him more attractive to people today.
Thus we see movements and diverse teachings that have little or nothing in common with the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We see the word of faith ministries who preach divine health, prosperity ministry and the “little gods” teachings. We see preterism teachings that change the words of the bible and claim that all prophecy in the bible has already occurred. We see self-proclaimed prophets who claim to be bringing a new message that adds to what the bible teaches.
Any of you who know the scriptures will immediately recall many scriptures that prove these things false. Some of these teachings are worse than false, they are dangerous and destructive and they will destroy the faith of some and exclude them from the Kingdom of God.
Why? Because those who listen to these strange and diverse teachings are not heeding the two simple words of Jesus Christ, “Follow me.” Instead they are doing what Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
They seek out teachers who “tickle their ears” with what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. They choose deliberately not to listen to the words of Jesus because they think there is more to gain from these other gospels, not realising they have turned away from the truth. They listen to the words of men rather than the words of God, and that is their downfall.
And I am not talking about what is going on in the world. This is happening in the church! These lies and false teachings are happening amongst the people of God and drawing them away from following the truth and the words of Jesus to, “Follow me.”
Beware! Do not fall into this trap. Seek out the truth. Find Jesus and follow Him. By all means pray for your friends and family and loved ones that they will find Jesus, but remember, you cannot save them. Your responsibility is to follow Jesus and if they come, that will be through the work of the Lord and following Him will be their responsibility too.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by Brian Lary)
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