“What’s it to you?” John 21:18-23
We looked recently at the scripture just before the text we are in today where Peter had jumped out of the boat and swam ahead of everyone… and it Peter found complete forgiveness. He jumped from the boat out a need to be forgiven – but I can also tell you that as he swam there was probably a still a little bit of pride left in Peter.
You can imagine Peter standing there soaking wet thinking to himself – “Hah! I beat you this time didn’t I John. Oh, you may have beaten me to the tomb a few days back but I beat you today!”
You can see a sense of rivalry, of competition between Peter and John (at least of Peter’s part). And I will tell you that Jesus saw it too. And that is why Jesus said to Peter what He did.
Turn to John 21:18-23 = let’s read that again. (READ) Beginning in verse 18 lets join the story.
In verse 18, Jesus has already forgiven Peter completely and now He is telling Peter what will happen to him and how he will die in serving Christ’s cause. Jesus has forgiven him, commissioned him and He tells him, Peter, you will be crucified like I was. History records that Peter was indeed hung on a cross.
It is remarkable to know that Jesus is always up front with His disciples. He never said that in following Him that you wouldn’t have any trouble – just the opposite. And He never said that in following Him you would not be persecuted – just the opposite; in John 16:33 Jesus had already told the disciples that they would face troubles but not to worry about it because with Him they could over come it. Now He lets Peter know that he will face a real difficulty.
So when we face difficulties in serve Christ and the church don’t think it odd or unusual…
Then in verse 19, Jesus caps off His honesty by simply saying to Peter – “Follow Me.”
Jesus tells Peter; “…look I have been honest with you, I have told you what to do and I have told you that you are going to face a hard end, but now all you have to do is follow me.”
Something important to note here, John is just now making his way to the beach and Jesus is talking straight to Peter… not John.
He had given Peter his job (verses 15-17) and he is simply telling Peter to do what He had told him (even in spite of what the end would be).
That is hard for us to swallow.
You may hear Jesus calling you to a specific task, a specific ministry but along with that, you can see the risks it might involve, the frustrations, the possible dangers, you wonder why He didn’t call someone else to do it or you decide on you own that it is just too hard and so you hesitate.
But the call is still the same, it is personal…
Jesus say; “YOU - just follow me…”
Now in verses 20-21 you can appreciate what Peter did.
Whether it was envy or jealousy that motivated Peter’s question to Jesus, we don’t know but what we do know is that there was a little rivalry going on with Peter.
So Peter did something that we have all done at some time and here is where it gets interesting. He had heard what Jesus had told him and he nervously looks over his shoulder and spies John (his competition, his race opponent, his ministry rival) and says – “Hey Jesus, what about Him?”
Will he have a hard ministry like I will?
You can hear Peter’s tone… “Come on Jesus… what about him, he is supposed to be the one You love. If I have to suffer, he should too. Will You tell him the same thing Your telling me? Why does he get to stay in Jerusalem?”
Doesn’t that sound like something children do? You would think that Peter would just be grateful that Jesus had just forgiven him for a horrible sin…
But have you ever felt that way? Maybe you have asked the same questions. You have served in a ministry or you have felt God calling you to something and you have said – “Hey God, what about so and so? I don’t see them doing anything; I don’t see you telling them they are going to have work hard.
Yet you and I get the same abrupt answer to our questions as Peter did then…
In verse 22, Jesus says; "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!"
Basically Jesus is saying – “what’s it to you what I do with John”
You can now hear Jesus’ tone – “Peter I wasn’t talking to John, John will have his own work, I was talking to you!”
The years haven’t changed people much, have they? People today still get overly concerned about what someone in the church isn’t doing. They still look over their shoulder and say “Hey, what about him or her…” You may say – “my ministry is so hard compared to others, why do I have to do the hard work or the dirty work.”
Unfortunately, this is where personal competition or rivalry will destroy the work of the church. People find themselves looking over their shoulder to see if they are ahead of someone else or if someone else isn’t pulling their weight.
And rather than anything getting done in the church’s missions everyone (except for that one or two who are wearing themselves out) sits around complaining that nothing is getting done.
Have you ever seen someone pout because they had to do something and they felt like everyone else (maybe a brother or a sister) should be helping – it isn’t a pretty picture, it looks rather foolish, almost comical to be honest, it looks down right stupid when adults do it!
Some people keep themselves out of the jy of serving because they are to busy worrying about why someone else doesn’t or wont… or what the other person might get out of their own serving…
So there is a very important lesson for you today in what Jesus said to Peter… a lesson on how YOU are to follow, on how YOU are to serve (not someone else):
First that your service should be focused on Christ not you;
Jesus said to Peter and says to you – “follow ME…” and it is in following that we serve. You don’t serve yourself, in following Him you serve Him.
It is that Christ-focused service doesn’t distinguish between small and large. It simply welcomes all opportunities to serve. Christ-focused service is content in just serving. Christ-focused service is free from the need to calculate it success against what others are doing; it delights only in the serving.
Christ-focused service gives no regard to itself, it sees the greater need of the mission and will do what ever it has to in order to follow and further Christ’s mission.
There is an interesting story about a man in civilian clothes who during American Revolution rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier. Their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help them. Asked why by the rider, he retorted with great dignity, “Sir, I am a corporal!”
The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers. The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, “Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again.”
It was none other than George Washington.
Rather than you complaining - It just might be in your Christ focused serving that others will learn from your example…
Next – do what Jesus has called YOU to do.
That is to first follow Him, not if mom, dad, brother, or someone else will too… but you follow.
Then don’t look back.
Jesus said in Luke 9:62, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."
And if you think about it, it is really hard to follow if you’re looking over your shoulder all the time. It would be like trying to drive a car and looking in the rearview mirror instead of out the windshield.
Then - Look at the ministry that Jesus has given you; focus on that, focus on using your gifts where God has called you. If you have time to stop and question why someone isn’t serving or why their ministry is different then you probably aren’t doing the job God has given you…
Don’t worry about what someone else is supposed to be doing… and don’t stop doing what you are called to do just because don’t see someone else serving…
you do what you are supposed to do.
The challenge today is – STOP questioning what someone isn’t doing – “what’s it to you anyway…”
Ask yourself if you are doing, what Jesus has called YOU to do? Or are you just complaining or comparing it to what others are or aren’t doing…
Let me ask you- “What has Jesus called YOU to do?”