May 9, 2011
“Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.'”
The Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus
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Peter had been through a deep experience that morning on the beach with Jesus. Jesus had first met him on the beach in Galilee, and called him while fishing to be His disciple (Matthew 4:18). Jesus told Peter and his brother Andrew: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). As we have seen with Jesus now leading Peter through three declarations of His love for Jesus, in contrast to his previous denials of Jesus, Jesus now restores and strengthens Peter for ministry.
Peter’s Death Foretold. Before Judas betrayed Jesus, Peter had proudly predicted that he would follow Jesus even to death, and never deny Him: “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You” (Matthew 26:34). Jesus responded to Peter’s false prophesy by saying: “Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times” (John 13:38). Now, following the parallel with the denial, Jesus responds to Peter and Jesus prophesies concerning Peter’s death: “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go” (John 21:18). Jesus employed the same opening to His prophesy now (“Truly, truly”) as He did when He prophesied to Peter that Peter would deny Jesus three times.
Glorifying God in Death. Jesus told Peter about Peter’s death when he would become old for a purpose. Although Peter had earlier boasted about dying for Jesus instead of denying Him, Jesus now lets Peter know the type of death Peter would endure, just as Jesus predicted the time and manner (crucifixion) of His own death before it happened (Matthew 20:19). Death in this case would also the involve Peter holding out his hands, being led where he did not want to go. History, but not the Bible, tells us that Peter was crucified, and the church historian Eusebius (230 A.D., Ecclesiastical History 3:1) declares he was crucified upside down to distinguish his death from the Lord’s crucifixion. We should always recall that historians may record events accurately, but then again, maybe not. The Bible always records every event accurately, and it is fully trustworthy because God inspired the writers (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Jesus conquered death by dying for all men, but the enemy, death, has not yet been abolished (1 Corinthians 15:25-26; Hebrews 2:8). God can use our death to glorify Himself, just as He did with Jesus (John 17:1, 5; compare 1 Corinthians 6:20).
Follow Me. Jesus now calls Peter anew to further ministry for Him. He commands Peter: “Follow Me” (John 21:19) and echoes Peter’s original call to the ministry of being fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). See the parallel with being on the beach again, near fishing nets, and listening to Jesus call him to service. Instead of focusing Peter upon his death, Jesus tells Peter to follow Him in life right now. Peter also knew that he would grow old before his death, and until then, Jesus planned for him to follow Christ. On a deeper level, Jesus had just finished putting all the denials of Peter behind the entire group of disciples, and reaffirmed that Peter was still close with Jesus. God forgives absolutely, without remembering your sin (Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12; Hebrews 10:17).
So we learn more about the Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus.
● Jesus made many prophecies concerning the future, and He loves for us to trust Him with our own future. He has promised to be with us forever.
● Jesus wants our entire lives to glorify God, even after we have sinned against Him. We fail Jesus more when we do not return to repentance and love after we sin.
● Jesus loves for us to listen to Him, and know that He wants the best for our lives today. He commands us to glorify Him in our lives. We can serve Him in life and death.
Application for Today
Recently I met a man obsessed with his own sin. He talked about his failures before God, and how miserable he was. I mentioned the love of God for him, but he continued to dwell upon his own sinful failures, and particularly his problems with alcohol and his marriage. He could not imagine that God could still use him to glorify God. He had made mistakes he could not get past in his own mind. Today, some of you need to hear Jesus saying to you, even after all your denials and sinful behavior, “Truly, truly, I say to you . . . .” Jesus still talks with the greatest sinners, and still want to use them to glorify Himself. Will you linger in sinful distress, or listen to Jesus saying “Truly, truly” today?