(The last in a series on choosing to learn. First published January 16, 2013)
Jesus and Peter had just finished breakfast. Grilled fish and toast. There’s no textual evidence of coffee. (The story’s in John 21.)
It was a somewhat awkward conversation. Jesus gave Peter three opportunities to affirm their relationship. It was probably to undo the three times Peter denied the relationship. Nothing specific was said about that denial, a few days before, right before Jesus was executed. But Peter knew. And Peter was pretty sure Jesus knew.
Peter comes through fine. He’s committed to feeding sheep, knowing that the metaphor wasn’t about sheep at all. Jesus gives Peter a little glimpse of how his (Peter’s) life will end. And then Jesus says, “Follow me.”
Peter looks across the fire. Thoughtfully. He sees John. He starts to wonder.
John had been close to Jesus, maybe closer than Peter. John was probably the younger brother everyone loved. And envied. John didn’t get scolded like Peter had. John wasn’t out in front like Peter was. A few days before, John got to sit right next to Jesus at the last supper. Jesus looked down from the cross and told John to take care of Mary.
“What about him?” Peter asked. “What’s his life look like?”
Jesus says, “If he lives forever, what’s that to you? Follow me.”
Human beings constantly compare ourselves to others. It makes us feel good. It makes us feel bad. It lets us know where we fit. We feel bad that we aren’t as spiritual as others. We feel good that we aren’t as bad as that person. And Jesus’ comment started rumors that he was saying John wouldn’t die.
But, Jesus says, “What’s that to you?”
Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. Don’t look around to see well the people you envy are doing. Don’t try to measure. Or measure up.
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