What is that to thee? follow thou me.

After the resurrection of Jesus, He spoke with Peter while having breakfast by the sea (John 21:15-22). There are a few lessons from this text, but I’d like to focus on Peter’s response to the knowledge that he will die for Christ & His Cause.

After Jesus describes the type of love sacrifice that Peter will face, Peter turns toward John and asks, “what shall this man do?”

Jesus, ever succinct and direct, answers, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”

It is this powerful lesson that will be the focus of this article. Before we can learn the lesson, we must understand the root of Peter’s question.

Peter had heard that he will live the remainder of his life in sacrificial service to Christ, the end of which will be a martyr’s death. “This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.”

This would be very serious news to receive. The closest example I could give you is one from my own experience. After two years of cancer treatment for my mom, we were in her doctor’s office when we heard something to the effect, “There’s nothing more we can do. Go home, we’ll try to make you comfortable, and enjoy your family in whatever time you have left.” How devastating that must have sounded to her.

Perhaps this gives us just a glimpse at how this might have sounded to Peter at this point in his life. Peter would learn more from Jesus after this, but this stands as a reminder to every Christian, we who love Christ will face persecution, and trouble in this life. [2Tim 3:12].

So, what are we to do with this information, knowing that life as a Christian won’t always be easy? Can we still be happy? Can we find any joy? The answer is yes, we can be HAPPY & JOYFUL, the question then becomes HOW? For that answer we turn to the words of our Lord, FOLLOW ME.

FOLLOW ME.

The beginning of following anyone is to have FAITH. Nobody will follow anyone if they can’t trust that they are worthy to be followed, and able to fulfill what they have promised. Christ is both worthy and able. Just one text of many will prove this point; Christ is spoken of as the Creator [John 1:1-4; Col 1:17-18]. Jesus told His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” [John 14:1-3]. Another powerful verse to help with our FAITH in Christ is, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” [Heb 2:18]

Second, we can only follow Him if we OBEY Him. Jesus is the Captain of our Salvation, but too many treat Him like they’re the captain and He a buck Private. [cf. Heb 2:10] Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” [John 14:15; 1John 5:3]

Next, we notice that in that breakfast by the sea, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” We should ask ourselves this same question. The word for love is ‘agape’ which is the all-in sacrificial love. To follow Jesus is to LOVE whom He loves. We must LOVE God [Mat 22:37], Christ [John 14:15], The Holy Spirit [Rom 15:30], the brethren [1Peter 1:22], yourself & your family [Eph 5:28-29], and also your Enemies [Luke 6:27].

Fourth, Christ told us to come to Him and, “Take my yoke upon you, and LEARN of me;” [Matt 11:29]. It is amazing to me how much people say that want to follow Jesus, but spend so little time trying to LEARN of Him. He expects us to be the LIGHT of the world, but how can we without LEARNING of Him, without reading His word? [Mat 5:14; cf. Psalm 119:105; Pro 6:23]

Fifth, whether young or Old, as we have OPPORTUNITY let us do good to all men, especially the household of faith [Gal 6:10]. Sometimes folks don’t want us to do good toward them. That’s ok. Paul wrote, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” [Rom 12:18; cf. Mat 15:14; 1Cor 14:38; 1Tim 6:18]

Lastly, and just as importantly, Following Christ involves WALKING. John was present at the breakfast by the sea and he wrote, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to WALK, even as he walked.” [1John 2:6]. Peter wrote, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” [1Peter 2:21; cf. 1Pet 3:13; 2Peter 1:16].

Putting all this together, we know that life is full of disappointments, trouble, and trials. Much of this will come through the hands of people. However, the scriptures teach us that we can have JOY & HAPPINESS despite this world’s troubles. [James 1:2; Mt 5:12; Ac 5:41]. Peter wrote, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” [1Pet 4:13; 1:6; 4:16]

Peter was told at the beginning that he would give his life to Christ. Peter wanted to know, if I’m going to suffer, what going to happen to the others? Christ told him that whatever happens to others has no bearing on what Peter does, “YOU FOLLOW ME.” He understood the lesson.

Whatever it is that others are doing, or not doing, what they’re getting, or not getting, how much fun they’re having, or how much they suffer, these have nothing to do with what YOU & I are to do.

As I read again John 21:22, when Jesus commands Peter, I also hear…

Spencer, YOU FOLLOW ME.”

FOLLOWING JESUS

There is no argument, just about everyone I speak with about the gospel agrees that people are to FOLLOW JESUS. When I ask them what this means, they will often say something like, “you’ve got to ask Jesus into your heart.”

Setting aside that this statement is never found anywhere in scripture, it never answers the question, “how you FOLLOW Jesus?” This is a legitimate question. Jesus said to the rich ruler in Mark 10;

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

[Mark 10:21]

Jesus said it at other times as well….

If any man serve me, let him follow me. [John 12:26]

So, how are we to follow Jesus? For us to Follow Jesus, we must find out where He walked. A serious reading of the gospels shows us the life of Jesus and how He walked and where His walk ended.

Jesus came into a world full of sin and darkness. John says about Him, “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” [John 1:5]. Jesus said about Himself, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” [John 8:12].

Three times in Marks Gospel does Jesus predict where He would finish His walk in this dark world. “Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem…And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again” [Mark 10:33,32]. He, of course, was talking about His crucifixion where He would become the perfect sacrifice for sin.

After His death, they took down His body and placed it inside a tomb and rolled a stone over the opening. Then, on the 3rd day, He rose again.

FOLLOWING JESUS

That was a very difficult path…. the path to the cross. How are we to follow that? Paul explains it to us in Romans 6:3-4…We are in sin, our sinful self must die (which is why repentance is so hard), then we must be buried which is baptism (you never bury living people) and then God raises us up to a new life.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

All of this means that for us to follow Jesus, we must take the path that He took. For us to Live for Jesus requires us to die for Him first.

OBEYING THE GOSPEL

This imagery fits perfectly with obeying the Gospel [2Thess 1:8-9]. The Gospel is the Death, Burial & Resurrection of Jesus [1Cor 15:1-4]. We obey the Gospel when we die to sin, are buried in Baptism and are raised up as a new creature. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” [Colossians 2:12].

To follow Jesus, to obey the Gospel, to be saved…we must Believe, Repent, Confess & be Baptized for the remission of sins. [Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 22:16]. Then we can continue to follow Him in the way that He lived.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me

[Galatians 2:20].