A Brief Meditation for the Month

October 2018

The Apostle John, as he concludes his record of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus, narrates an intriguing conversation between the Saviour and his disciple Peter, who had previously denied any association with him. Compassionately restoring Peter to office and service, while at the same time searching his heart with questions as to his love for him, regardless of what had occurred in the past; Peter acknowledged that as Christ knew all things, including where his affections were really placed; he did genuinely love his Saviour. (John 21:15–22).

It is obvious from the conversation between Jesus and Peter that love for Christ is imperative for any who are involved in his service, official or otherwise. Peter was commissioned to feed Christ’s flock—his redeemed people—but he was to do so out of love for Christ himself. Loveless service is no service at all. Christ requires, and deserves, that all his followers serve him with the whole heart, regardless of what others around them may be doing, or not doing. John himself, who throughout the gospel records, appears as a close associate of Peter, was quite obviously present at the time of this conversation, and attracted the attention of Peter. Knowing what his own work was to be, Peter inquisitively inquired “Lord, and what shall this man do?” (verse 21). Considering the close relationship between Peter and John during the ministry of the Saviour, we are not surprized at Peter’s question. They had shared so much time and ministry together that it would seem most natural for Peter, or John for that matter, to be interested in what the other was doing. Yet Jesus responded to Peter’s inquiry with a rebuke, basically telling Peter to mind his own business. Jesus said, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.” (verse 22). The Saviour was really telling Peter to concentrate upon his own work, regardless of what John was required to do.

John’s record of this event ought to be more than informative. It should be instructive, maybe even a rebuke. We often tend to compare our portion in providence with that of others, particularly other Christians. Maybe our divinely ordered lot seems more difficult and trying than our neighbour’s. Perhaps God appoints us some service more demanding than that of others or prescribes difficulties that test our faith and Christian graces far beyond what is required of others. Under such circumstances we may be tempted to think we are being treated unjustly, or we may feel that God ought to deal with others differently. True peace of mind however, arises from the knowledge that I am personally doing, and being, what Christ my redeemer requires of me. In one of his parables, Jesus implied that there is a reward awaiting those who are faithful in his service. Referring to the address of a nobleman to his diligent servant in a parable, the nobleman commended him for being faithful and trustworthy in a small matter. (Luke 19:17). Thus, one of the lessons to be learned from Christ’s teaching is that it is not so much the quantity of our service for him that matters, as the quality of it. If this truth is to have its proper impact upon us, then we must be consistently attending to the divine counsel addressed to Peter, “What is that to thee? Follow thou me.” Dedication to, concentration upon, and determined loving effort, to fulfil our own service to Christ is required of each of us, just as it was of Peter; no matter how mundane it may seem to be to us. “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.” (Jeremiah 45:5)

G. G. Hutton.