John 21:20-21 (Holman) So Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them. That disciple was the one who leaned back against Jesus at the supper and asked, “Lord, who is the one that’s going to betray you?” When Peter saw him he said to Jesus, “Lord – what about him?”
Jesus told Peter, “Follow Me”, but the Apostle reverted to his error of taking his eyes off Jesus. He turned and saw our author, John the beloved, who had rested his head in the bosom of the One who came from the bosom of the Father (1:18).
One thing that makes it hard for us to follow Jesus is our desire to snoop into other people’s lives. Peter had received harsh news (21:18-19); he will suffer and die for Jesus. Peter wondered, “Will I suffer alone, or will others share my fate?”
The Apostle was slipping back into the bad habit of wanting to manage other people’s lives. Peter had been restored, but never did reach perfection. None do.
John 21:22 “If I want him to remain until I come,” Jesus answered, “what is that to you? As for you, follow Me.”
Jesus reproved Peter. The Master was not interested in satisfying Peter’s curiosity. What happened to another was not Simon’s business. Impulsive Peter had to learn some things were outside his authority. Jesus rules in humanaffairs.
In any difficult relationship-situation, there are three major components: what only God can do, what only the other person can do, and what only we can do. Blessed are those who know the latter, and limit themselves to it.
We have the right to analyze others only when the motive is love. It is one thing to ask, “What should I do for this person?” and quite another to ask, “What should this person do?” The former question is necessary, the latter presumptuous.
Fortunately, Peter learned his lesson well. He later wrote that no one “should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a meddler” (I Peter 4:15).
John 21:23-24 So this report spread to the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not tell him that he would not die, but, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
John dealt with an error that rose in the early church. Jesus’ beloved friend became the darling of Jesus’ church. John was highly venerated. Even the Eleven evidently loved him. They seemingly never begrudged the special place John held in the eyes of Jesus and His people. Because he lived long, and due to Jesus’ words, some thought John would never die, that he would live until Jesus returned.
John did not live till Jesus returned, but did live a long, gentle life. Peter’s life was one of action, ending in martyrdom. He was a fighter. John was tender, a person Jesus could entrust His mother to. John became a man of contemplation.
He walked close to God. He came to know his Lord so well that he could say, “God is love.” To John’s close communion with Jesus we owe this blessed book, the Holy of Holies of the New Testament, and my favorite Bible verse, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John lived some sixty-five years after the death of Jesus, long enough to hear of the violent deaths of all the other Apostles, including that of his own brother James. Old age can make us solitary figures. Friends become fewer and fewer. The years left John a man with no peers. We know he deeply yearned to go home and be with Jesus. Near his death, he wrote, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).
How appropriate that the one most loved by Jesus and the other Apostles would be the last to enter glory. It was so arranged that all the Apostles would be able as a whole group to welcome their beloved home.
John has become a true hero to me. I am proud I was named for John the Baptist. But through the years I have grown to appreciate John the Beloved greatly.
Loving the Bible and Bible history, I want to tell a story before we go to the next verse, this book’s last sentence. Nearing the end of John’s Gospel brings to mind a wonderful event. On May 26, 735 A.D., the monks of Jarrow, in northeast England, were whispering to each other. In their monastery, Bede the Venerable, the greatest Anglo-Saxon scholar and the father of English history, was dying.
The last project of his life was to translate the Gospel of John into his native tongue. It would be the first part of God’s Word translated into the vernacular of Saxon England. The task was unfinished, chapter 21 still needed to be completed, yet Bede’s gasping for air proved death was near. By his bed sat a scribe, who pled with Bede to rest, “Father, you speak with difficulty, the exertion is too great.”
Bede disagreed, “Take your pen. Write as fast as you can.” As hours passed, sentences trembled from Bede’s lips. One sudden pause made the scribe fear the old monk had died, but when he realized Bede was alive, the scribe leaned close to his cherished master and whispered, “Only one sentence is lacking – only one.”
It revived Bede’s spirit. With faltering breath he spoke the last sentence. The scribe rejoiced, “It is finished.” Bede replied, “It is finished,” and praised the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He asked to be carried to the spot where he was accustomed to pray. In this holy place, his work done, Bede the Venerable died.
As we end this series on the Gospel of John, we honor Bede, who labored to give us this precious book in our language. Can we imagine English literature without John’s Gospel? We are grateful for Bede, and many others, who labored to make this book available to us. And what was the last sentence Bede translated?
John 21:25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.
John the Beloved dropped his pen, saying many other things could have been written. This beautiful climax causes the book to end with an “et cetera.”
Much about Jesus we can never know. He was the ultimate Miracle Worker, the One who performed more miracles than we could ever imagine.
John, unable to write all he knew about Jesus, had to make a few choices from the mountain of material available. If all had been written down, we would have to spend all our time reading about Jesus rather than serving Him.
Our knowledge of Jesus, at best, is partial. When dealing with the Son of God’s life, we feel we are standing on the shore of a boundless ocean. What we are able to see is nothing compared to what lies out of sight, beyond the horizon.
Thus, the question. How did John decide what to write? What did the Holy Spirit use to give Him parameters within to work? John’s answer is found in 20:30-31: “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.”
Jesus purchased our salvation. In His “It is finished” cry at the cross we heard the completion of redemption. Everything needed to buy our Heaven is found in Christ. Sinners have no need to seek forgiveness elsewhere. Nothing needs to be added to Jesus’ sacrifice. No flaw exists in what He purchased for us.
People do not go to Heaven because they are good; people do not go to Hell because they are bad. Jesus took care of the sin debt; He paid it by His death on the cross. Thus, He is the ultimate issue regarding salvation, or the lack thereof. All who know Him will be forever with Him in eternity; all who do not know Him will be forever separated from Him. Everything hinges on our relationship with Jesus.
Dear unbeliever, God is totally satisfied with what Jesus did. Why aren’t you? Jesus did all that is necessary for our acceptance, now we must accept Him.
When John’s life was over, I’m sure he heard “Well done.” If the Gospel of John has taught us anything, it has taught we serve One worthy of being faithfully served to the end. May we finish strong, ever remembering, holiness matters most.