Peter knew Jesus was talking about dying when Jesus said, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward” (Jn. 13:36). And if Jesus was going to die now, he wanted to die now as well. But Jesus made it clear: “Where I am going you cannot follow now.” Peter’s response, however, was typical of all those of us disciples who sheepishly admit to seeing ourselves in the bumbling but devoted follower of Jesus:
“Lord, why can’t I follow you now?”
What Peter did not realize was that dying is not gain until living is Christ. Peter was willing to say, “to die is gain” in the words of the Apostle Paul, but he was not at all prepared to say, “For me to live is Christ.” Jesus knew that. There is no real victory in death until there is power in life. The Gospel promises both, but Peter knew nothing of this yet. Bravado is not courage. Willingness to die is not necessarily a dying to self. Jesus made it plain:
“Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.”
The Peter-ish part of me fancies heroic service, dazzling dying, and dramatic proofs of my sincere devotion for God. But my sincerity is shallow. I’m too inclined to be ashamed of Jesus when confronted by the servant girl in the courtyard. My heroic faith falls apart if I get an unexpected bill or if somebody dislikes me. It is best that I not die now. For me to die on my own schedule would be as it would have been for Peter: a preservation of my own identity. It wouldn’t be for the glory of God.
But since Jesus died first, and because sin could not hold Him in death, my identity is in Him. Because of the Gospel for me to live is Christ.
The Peters of the world have a wonderful promise. The One we love has gone before us. In His dying He brought glory to God and and brings us to glory with Him. It is because He said, “You cannot come with me now” that we can confidently embrace His promise, “but you will follow me afterward.”
It is not gain for me to die until, for me, to live is Christ. True disciples embrace Jesus’ now for them.
Filed under: Uncategorized |