Summary: An encouragement for Christians to be attentive to the Lord’s individual calling on their lives
What Shall This Man Do?
"Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me."
John 21:20-22 KJV
Say what you will about Peter, but I really like him! I like Peter because Peter would always asks the questions or make the statements that the other disciples only dared to think in their minds! Peter would often blurt out questions or utter declarations that would, at first glance, make him to appear foolish. But in reality, Peter was not the Lone Ranger; he just had the nerves or maybe the lack of common restraint to verbalize what the others would also be thinking! Call him impetuous if you will, but it is because of Peter that we have some insight into the Master’s mind that perhaps we, otherwise would not have been privileged to, had it not been for the impetuousness of Peter!
Yes! It was because of Peter’s impetuousness that he spoke out when Jesus was telling the disciples that they all would forsake him and flee. Peter said that although the others might forsake Jesus, he would stay him, even if it cost him his life! It was then that Jesus revealed that before the cock would crow, Peter would deny him three times! Well, those of us who are familiar with the details of our Lord’s passion know that it turned out exactly as Jesus said it would! Our Lord was taken, his disciples forsook him and fled, Peter vehemently denied him, not once, not twice, but three times, just as Jesus said he would!
Now, the setting of our text is after the resurrection. Jesus had appeared to his disciples before, but it seemed as if he appeared this time specifically with a word for Peter. No doubt, Peter was extremely disappointed in himself for his gross failure, and perhaps he wondered what the Lord thought of him. In this text, Jesus confronted Peter with his failure in order to restore him. And so, he asked the question; "Peter, lovest thou me more than these?" Now, I’m not going to expound upon that part of the conversation because that is not the focus of this preaching moment. But he asked that of Peter three times! Many Biblical scholars seem to think that it was to correspond with Peter’s three denials. At any rate, after Peter’s response, the Lord told him what the future would hold for him: He would die a martyr’s death! Then after Jesus had thus revealed this to Peter, it seem from the context of the text, that he got up and began to walk away, telling Peter to follow him. When he began to follow, Peter noticed that John was also following behind them and so he asked Jesus: "And Lord, what shall this man do?" In other words: "You have told me what is going to happen to me, but what I want to know is; what’s in store for this man? Will he die a martyr’s death also?’
Now, what is so interesting about this text is that it reveals that Peter was a lot like many of us! Look at his immediate response! Jesus had just told him how he was going to die, yet the first thing he wants to know is what’s going to happen to John! Now one might ask: What was Peter’s motivation in asking this question? Perhaps he couldn’t stomach the thought that he would be the only one to die a martyr’s death! You do know that misery loves company, don’t you? Somehow or another, we feel a little better when we know that we are not the only ones suffering or going through something! We take comfort in the thought of knowing that other folk are going through experiences similar to ours! And if we are not careful, we will let other folk’s experiences serve as an excuse for us not to do anything about our experiences. Let me show you what I am talking about: There are many people in the church who don’t do, simply because other folks are not doing! When they are confronted about their neglecting of duty, the first thing they say is: "Well, Sis So-in-so is not doing it either!" They fail to understand that God is not going to judge them based on what Sis So-in-so did or did not do! Their judgment will be based on what they did or did not do! Every man will have to see God for himself! My father used to say that every tub will have to sit on it’s own bottom! What others do not do is not a valid excuse for our failure to do what we should do!