Summary: There are so many distractions to following Jesus. John's gospel shows us a final example of how to deal with these at the very end of his gospel.
Lord, What About Him?
Riding the Inner City buses is an educational experience. One thing you learn early on is this: What you do for one you have to do for all. (That is, if you want any peace). There’s a standard of fairness and interconnectedness that is embedded in the hearts and minds of those kids that makes them like this.
It should come as no surprise. Our Declaration of Independence states the same thing when it says that all of us have been created equal. The truth is that some are created more equal than others. Did you know that you can take equality so far that we have some serious problems, such as understanding the difference between boys and girls that we see put into law regarding marriage today. In actuality, everyone is created different! There’s not another person like you in the universe. The equality principle is not the only principle at work in the true and real world. It needs balance and modification in light of the over all story of life.
The Bible states clearly that God is no respecter of persons, but the context of that is regarding who can be saved. In other places God clearly demonstrates that he chose Israel over all the other nations to be His people, not because they were bigger or better than other nations, but because God’s sovereign authority. He made a covenant with Abraham and the people of Israel inherited God’s promise.
When God organizes the local congregation of His church there are various spiritual gifts and various positions of ministry that God puts in place according to His own wisdom and through His Spirit. Some receive greater responsibility and authority than others. Is this showing favoritism? No! It is a demonstration of God’s wisdom and will. We are not the same but we share one Lord, one faith, one baptism. We are not all alike, but we bring our different gifts and talents together into one body and one family. The variety is as important as the equality and God’s election as sure as our responsibility.
When Jesus walked among us on this earth, he chose 12 men to become Apostles and of the 12 Jesus poured more time and energy into three: Peter, James and John. The gospels tell us that from time to time there was arguing among these men about which was the greatest. James and John’s mother had tried to procure special seating for her sons in the Kingdom of heaven, one on one side and the other on the other side of Jesus in his reign. As late as the final Passover meal with Jesus, these disciples were wrangling with one another over the same issue. You would think that if you walked and talked with Jesus for three years, you’d get the lesson of humility. But somehow these men needed regular reminders.
Now, as we come to the close of John’s gospel, as we talked about it this morning, we have Peter’s reinstatement and affirmation of his leadership and eventual sacrificial death to the glory of God. But what happens next is almost too life like. Peter is obviously still Peter. Let’s read the chapter one more time, and as we do, pay attention to Jesus and Peter’s relationship, and the dynamics of their conversation.