“Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” (John 21:20-23)
As often as we desire to know God’s will for ourselves, we also want to know God’s will for others. If God is leading us in a certain direction, we often are curious as to whether He will lead others in the same direction. We are not only concerned with what God is doing in our own lives but also what He is doing, and will do, in the lives of others.
Upon hearing from Jesus that martyrdom was his destiny, Peter wanted to know if the Apostle John would encounter the same destiny. Peter asked, in reference to John, “What about this man?”
Jesus clearly and firmly told Peter, ““If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” In other words, Jesus was telling Peter to mind his own business. What Jesus’ plans for John entailed were to be of no concern for Peter. Peter was to follow the Lord. Whatever John’s destiny was, was between John and Jesus, not Peter.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Jesus’ prophecy regarding Peter’s martyrdom prompted Peter to ask what would happen to John (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”—see 13:23). He may have asked this because of his deep concern for John’s future, since he was an intimate friend. Jesus’ reply, “You follow me!,” signified that his primary concern must not be John but his continued devotion to the Lord and his service, i.e., Christ’s service must be his all-consuming passion and nothing must detract from it.”
Another commentator explains Peter’s motivation this way. “The law against coveting reflects, among other things, a broader truth about human nature, namely, that we are very interested in what other people have and what other people are doing. This can be positive when we are looking out for the welfare of others, but it is negative when we want what other people own in such a way that we are envious of them and wish that they did not have it. Our interest in other people is also negative when we take our focus off of the calling that God has given us and start inserting ourselves in others’ concerns. It is for good reason that the Apostle Paul tells us to mind our own affairs (1 Thess. 4:11). He knows that we are often more interested in what others are doing than what God has given us to do.”
Let us resolve today to focus our concern upon God’s will for our own lives and not to be preoccupied with God’s will in the lives of others. While genuine love and concern for one another is biblical (I John 4:7-8), we must not become distracted regarding what God has given us to do by being overly concerned with what He is given others to do.
May God’s truth and grace reside here.
Soli deo Gloria!