April 9, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — John 21:22 (NASB)
“Jesus said to him [Peter], “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”
Suddenly sometimes strange happens in the text. Peter asks, “What about him, though?” He points to the disciple whom Jesus loved following behind. I always thought it odd that he would ask and I still cannot be quite sure why he does so. However, I am always moved by Jesus’ persistent redirection: Peter, follow me. Stay in your lane. Don’t compare yourself. Keep your eyes on me. Not on him.
Several days have passed since the crucifixion and Jesus has appeared to the female and male disciples over the course of the week. One morning the disciples went back to what was familiar, which was fishing. Yet Jesus seems to have gotten up earlier than them to fish, roll up some dough and start a charcoal fire to make breakfast. I imagine Jesus rolling up his sleeves and looking forward to doing the most ordinary thing that he did countless times: eat with his friends. The miraculous catch at the Sea of Galilee had just occurred. The disciples cannot believe this is Jesus. I wonder if Jesus knew that this ragtag crew of disciples were still in shock at the events leading up to and following the crucifixion. He often loved through food so here he was again, feeding their bellies and their souls, to their bewilderment.
Over food with a full belly is a perfect time to have a serious conversation about the elephant in the room. Yo, Peter. Simon Peter. Simon, son of John. I know your life and everything about you. I loved you before you ever betrayed me. Do you love me…? They have a heart-to-heart conversation where Jesus calls him in again. Words of affirmation. Words of affection. Words of his calling and vocation. A recentering. A reinstatement. A renewal. Jesus gives him a path full of leadership verbs to engage. He finishes his affirmation of Peter by saying: Follow me.
Suddenly sometimes strange happens in the text. Peter asks, “What about him, though?” He points to the disciple whom Jesus loved following behind. I always thought it odd that he would ask. I still am not sure of the motive behind the question. However, I am always moved by Jesus’ persistent redirection: Peter, follow me. Stay in your lane. Don’t compare yourself. Keep your eyes on me. Not on him. Follow me.
I don’t hear a condescending tone in Jesus’ voice. It seems like a firm and gentle redirection even as Peter must be disoriented by all that has occurred. After the resurrection, we see, hear, and experience so many characters who respond to Jesus. Some left a long time ago. Some are still searching. Some just now believed. Some rejoice. Some have walked away. Many more are coming.
However you are feeling after your pilgrimage through Holy Week, may the voice of Jesus be centering you as you re-imagine the next steps forward. After you have held the invitation of Lent and engaged in practices such as confession, repentance, forgiveness, and healing; after the commotion of Easter traditions and festivities and expectations settle down; after you walk individually and collectively with believers in your community on this pilgrimage; may your soul find her center and your body a familiar voice to guide it.
Follow me is a refrain that can catch you and guide you any day. May the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead and who guided believers through Eastertide also invite you to follow the path of the Spirit.
How was the experience of Lent for you this year? When did you feel the nearness of God? When did you feel the absence of God?
Where in your life do you need the grace found in the words “Follow me” from Jesus? What tangible steps might this take?
God who calls and invites us to follow, always we begin again. As the crowds go home, may we find you near. As doubts and uncertainties persist, may we find you near. As questions about trials, worries, concerns, challenges in our lives remain, may we find you near—near enough to hear your ever-loving and ever-sustaining voice: Follow me, child. Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. I have loved you until the end. Amén.
Banner image by Knut Troim on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project’s online commentary. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved (John 21:20).
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