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John 21:20-25 brings us to the end of these studies in John’s Gospel. These few verses are a hugely powerful evidence of the truth and authenticity of the Bible. You would think that John would end with some amazing revelations from Jesus. But he does not. He ends with Peter’s jealousy towards John and with false rumours in the early church!
“John brings his Gospel to something of an abrupt and surprising conclusion. There are no final authoritative words from Jesus announcing the missionary mandate and no record of His ascension.” That is one of the reasons I spend time daily in the Bible, and I hope you do too. It's because it's real, it's where we are at.
Yesterday we saw how Jesus told Peter to follow Him even to his death. Peter responds by doing exactly what you and I might do: “Peter, seeing him (John), said to Jesus, ‘But Lord, what about this man?’” (verse 21). “Lord, how does that compare with my brother and what do You have in store for him?” The warning to us is clear. I need to hear what the Lord has planned for me and not to compare myself with others.
I don't know about you, but to me that's not easy. I read a prayer report from a brother yesterday who is highly successful, widely recognised, and very confident of God’s blessing on his ministry. I need to say “Thank you Lord that You are blessing that ministry” – and nothing else! It is easy to engage in comparison.
“Jealousy has been, and will be, the cause of many a downfall. Homes have been divided, parents and children separated, governments brought down, wars initiated, businesses ruined, relationships soured – all because of jealousy. It is quite possible for jealousy to invade a heart in which Christ dwells. A prominent evangelist in the days of D.L. Moody became extremely jealous of Moody’s success. He shared with a close friend his wish that Moody had never been born. The evangelist was unable to deal with his jealousy, and became so consumed by it that his ministry came to an end. This prominent evangelist faded from sight while Moody went on to make a tremendous impact on his generation, and was the means of people being saved for all eternity” (Selwyn Hughes).
My, and your, identity is in Jesus and His call for us alone. Paul helps me here, as he was never accepted during his lifetime by the authorities in the church. If it’s good enough for Paul, it is good enough for me and for you! “Stop looking around to see what is happening to this, that and the other person. Your acceptance and approval comes from God alone.” “The Lord says ‘What is that to you? Mind your own business!’”
That also relates to cross-cultural mission. Do some refuse that call because they refuse to let go of church friendships? “A special intimacy is suggested here between John and Peter.” “During the three years they spent with Jesus, their lives were closely linked. They were both present at some of the key moments in the stories of Jesus: the transfiguration, the struggle in Gethsemane, the trial at the High Priest’s house, the discovery of the empty tomb and the undisturbed cloths – to mention but a few. It was therefore quite reasonable for Peter to assume that their future assignments would also be linked, hence the question, ‘Lord, what about him?’”
Please don’t miss your call from the Lord by not being willing to let go of church relationships that you have now. The message here is that your call is unique and important. Don’t lose it for lesser things. “In the broad scope of things, my place in the work of the kingdom is unique and irreplaceable. So, when Jesus says: ‘Come, follow Me!’ I must fix my eyes on Him, and follow Him whatever the assignment, and whatever the cost. I am a child of God. I am unique. I am not a copy. I am an original. I am responsible.”
The Voice beautifully sums up these readings in John chapters 18-21. “This account, in particular, shows how to enter into God’s kingdom through faith in Jesus so we can experience eternal life. This is his invitation to join Him in this marvellous journey.”
Please do that – “join Him in this marvellous journey” that He has for you and forget about what He has for ‘John’! As you surrender to Jesus, hear Him whisper that by His grace alone: “Your acceptance and approval comes from God alone.” That is what Peter found, John found, Paul found. If that was good enough for them, then it is good enough for you and me!
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