Sermon Illustrations

Like Blind Beggars! (08.15.05--Envy!--John 21: 20-23)

“No one has done a better job of portraying envy than Dante, In his Purgatory . . .the envious sit like blind beggars by a wall. Their eyelids are sewn shut. the symbolism is apt, showing the reader that it is one of the blindest sins--partly because it is unreasonable, partly because the envious person is swept up in himself and swollen with poisonous thoughts in a dark, constricting world of almost unendurable self-imposed anguish. (Swidoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations & Quotes)

“What about him?” Jesus’s ministry was nearly finished on this earth. He had visited with and met with His disciples a number of times over this period. The Gospel of John records for us this very unusual visit just prior to His ascension into heaven. Jesus is leading Peter down a “path” that he had not heretofore known; a path that would lead Peter into apostleship and eventual death at the hands of the crucifiers. They had been talking and Jesus had been feeling Peter out. “Do you love me?” He asked this of Peter three times. Each time the disciple who denied Him answered that he did. Now, after plying Peter with the question three times, Jesus simply says, “You must follow me!” (John 21:19) But, before he could take that path, Peter turns around, seeing John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” following at a distance, he asks, “What about him?”

The answer that Jesus gives Peter is one of the most intriguing passages in Scriptures. “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” (John 21:22) “None of your business!” Jesus is telling Peter that it should be of no concern to him what happens to John or anyone else for that matter. Peter’s focus was to be Peter and not John. Peter’s grace was Peter’s grace. The fact that he would die by execution and John would not did not in any way “cheapen” the grace that God had given Peter. Envy has no place in the ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Envy blinds us to the purpose that God has given us and the grace that He has reserved for us. For some He has given much in the way of pain and suffering. For others he has given little. For some He has blessed with wealth, for others He has not. When we blindly lash out at others, especially...

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