These last two verses of the book of John could easily be overlooked as just the way John closed the chapter and his gospel. But when you think about what he said in these two verses, there is still a message we can take away and learn.
It is my belief that nothing written in the bible is without a meaning and a purpose. Likewise nothing that happens in the lives of the people of God is without a plan and a purpose, even and sometimes especially the bad things that happen.
So these couple of verses also tell us something in what they say as much as in what they do not say. Let’s have a look and a think about these words for just a few minutes.
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.
In my last post we looked at how Peter turned back to his former life as a fisherman after Jesus had been put to death and resurrected. Wether he thought the whole business of Christianity had ended because The Lord was no longer with them or what he thought is not really known. But it was certain that Peter was not thinking clearly and Jesus was about to show him in no uncertain terms that he could not go back and exactly where his future lay.
As a brief recap, all that lies in the past for a Christian is death. The past was where our former life of sin and worldly passions existed. When we come to Christ we leave those things to enter into Gods kingdom and receive a new life in the spirit. The past is dead and gone for we die to our old life of sin through entering into the death of Jesus Christ by baptism. We now need to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus as Paul wrote in Romans 6:11.
So let us look now at how Jesus turned Peter around and changed his thinking to focus on what lies ahead and not on what he left behind.
This will be a two part post to cover this message. It is a lesson I have learned again just recently and it is one that many Christians are unaware of how serious a matter it is. You can't go back when you come to The Lord. You must continue to push forward.
And yet in these scriptures we see that even Jesus' disciples made this mistake mere days after He had died and was resurrected. And Jesus came to them, specifically to Peter for he was the one who made the error, and in no uncertain terms turned them around to move forward.
So today we will look at why you can't look or go back, and tomorrow we will look at what Jesus did with Peter when he looked back.
After Jesus had risen from the dead He appeared to the disciples a number of times. However Thomas missed His first appearance to the disciples.
Thomas it seems had a few issues. Many times he is painted as being a doubter and not believing things unless he saw it for himself. Now there are two ways to look at this. First, he could be seen as lacking faith and being suspicious. But then he could be seen as being too cautious and not willing to accept things without proof, especially when those who are telling you those things are trustworthy.
The way that Jesus handles this situation tells us a lot about how He helps His people and tells us a lot about faith, trust and promises to us today.
After Jesus had risen from the dead He appeared to the disciples many times. In these scriptures we see Him appear to His closest disciples, the eleven (bearing in mind that Judas had gone).
This particular appearance is interesting for several reasons. Firstly, it was where He proved to the disciples that it was actually Jesus who was there and that He was there in the flesh. He showed them the nail holes in his hands and the place where His side was speared.
It was important that the disciples knew Jesus had truly arisen. After all, they were called to go out to the world and to preach the resurrection of the dead, so they had to know it was truth and that it was real. But there were four other things that The Lord showed the disciples in this appearance.
The resurrection of Jesus is the key principle that underlies Christianity. It is the one thing that sets Christianity apart from every other religion in the world.
As has been said many times, in every other religion you can visit the tombs of the founders of the religion, but there is no tomb to visit Christ because He is risen. The basis of Christianity is that we are offered life and freedom through the resurrection of The Lord.
So central is resurrection to Christianity that if there were no resurrection there would be no Christianity. Without the resurrection of The Lord there is no religion for it is through the resurrection of Jesus that we hold our faith and receive the promises of life and freedom in Jesus Christ.
There are some very interesting things that we can see in the events of the resurrection as they unfolded in these scriptures.
The events that followed the death of Jesus were interesting as His body was taken for burial. The depth of feeling that the Jewish leaders held against Jesus and those who followed him was evident in the reactions of those who claimed His body.
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who was a ruler of the Jews came to claim the body and prepare it for burial. However they came secretly and surreptitiously because they feared the Jewish leaders. We see it later also in the reactions of the disciples prior to Pentecost where they remained locked up in the upper room where the last supper was held. They were basically in hiding because all felt that the Jewish leaders had gained the advantage and had won.
They were wrong for the death and burial of Jesus was not the end, but the beginning and the repercussions of His death, burial and resurrection carry forward to us today.
Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in one of his book these words, that God is dead. He was speaking about how the whole idea and concept of God was dead in modern western society. How the premise of atheism has overtaken modern thinking to attempt to destroy all thoughts and actions in society that promote the truth of God.
There was only one time in history when those words were true, and that was when Jesus Christ, the Son of God was nailed up and put to death in accordance with the plan, design, foreknowledge and the will of God the Father. But unlike a man, He was only dead for three days and then arose to live in eternity and to offer mankind eternal life.
Jesus was nailed up to die. The last few acts that were prophesied concerning His life were completed with the soldiers casting lots for His garments and Him being given a drink of sour wine as He said, “I thirst.”
Jesus’ time had come to an end on earth and the stage was set for the commencement of Christianity and the blessings that would come. In His death he became the sacrificial lamb and His blood would become the blood of the covenant by which those who followed Him would receive freedom, joy, peace and life.
In these last moments of His life we see two remarkable things occur, and it is those we will look at today.