Tom: We’re continuing with the gospel. We’re in the Gospel of John:21:20: “Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following, which also leaned on his breast at supper and said, ‘Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?’ Peter seeing him sayeth to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what shall this man do?’ Jesus sayeth unto him, ‘If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.’” A little reproof to Peter.
Dave: Yeah. “What shall this man do?” Why should we be concerned about others, what their task is if the Lord has assigned to them, or how long they will live and so forth…?
Tom: We tend to do that, don’t we Dave? “What’s that guy doing, shouldn’t I be doing that? Or isn’t he getting a better deal than I’m getting? What’s the deal?”
Dave: Well, Jesus has just told Peter that his life is not going to end very pleasantly. He’s going to be taken where he won’t want to go, and maybe Peter is complaining and saying, “Well, hey, how about him? What’s going to happen to him?” And Jesus is saying, “Well, you just leave that to Me. You follow Me, and let Me take care of what happens to the others.”
Tom: Good lesson for all of us, huh, Dave?
Tom: Should I keep reading?
Tom: “Then went this saying abroad among the brethren that that disciple should not die, yet Jesus said not unto him, ‘He shall not die,’ but, ‘If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?’”
Dave: Well, I guess, at least as far as we know, John lived longer than any of the other disciples. We’re not sure how he died. We know he was exiled to the island of Patmos. That’s where he received the book of Revelation, the last book not only in the Bible, but the last one as to the time in which it was written that we have in Scripture.
Tom: Dave, what the apostles—the lives that they were going to live—they were not, what do you call, a bed of roses here. Wasn’t it Paul that said in Corinthians, didn’t he refer to that as…
Dave: “We are the last appointed unto death.” Is that what you’re thinking of?
Tom: Yes, yeah.
Dave: Yeah, “until I come…” They know that He’s coming back; He’s told them that. In fact, He said, “a little while.” But now, Jesus is saying, “If I will that he tarry till I come,” that’s making it sound like a bit longer,” because He says, John 16, “Yet a little while, and you see me no more. And a little while and you will see me.” Now it’s sounding a bit longer. “You mean, it could be that the rest of us are going to die before You come, [but] John will maybe still be alive?” We don’t get their reaction, but there must have been some reaction, but the Bible doesn’t deal with that. “Until I come.” He has said to them, “I’m going to go away. If I go away, I’ll come again and receive you unto myself.” We are to take the bread and the cup until He comes. We’re still doing that. When is He ever going to come?
Tom, there are a lot of us who would like to tarry till He comes. As I think I’ve mentioned before, my father used to say quite often, “I’m not looking for the undertaker, I’m looking for the uppertaker.” But the undertaker got him. I say the same thing: I don’t want to die, I’d like to be taken to heaven alive and transformed rather than resurrected. So this is a hope that the Lord lays out for His disciples, but He’s not telling the manner of John’s death, and that saying goes out among the disciples, “Well, John isn’t going to die. You can’t kill John.” I wish we knew more about it, Tom, but the Bible doesn’t give it to us, so it was in God’s wisdom that He doesn’t give us all of these details. We don’t know about them, but you were alluding to 1 Corinthians:4:9, I think it is, where Paul said that, “we, the apostles, are the last ones appointed unto death.” In other words, we have to die. That would seem to include John, of course, so Paul knew that John was not going to tarry till Christ came. Paul knew that he would not tarry till Christ came. He said, “The time of my departure is at hand.” He said that to Timothy, 2 Timothy 4. Acts 20, Paul said, “After my departure, grievous wolves will enter in, not sparing the flock.” So Paul knew that he would die. Peter knew that he would die. Peter said, “I will endeavor that after my decease you will have these things in remembrance.” That’s 2 Peter 1.
Tom: Dave, how does this affect imminency? Christ’s imminent return? And we’ve talked in programs past, there’s no condition that would restrict Christ from returning.
Dave: There was only one condition. [chuckles] After the apostles were gone, then Christ could come at any moment, and that didn’t take long for the apostles to go. Well, the apostles had to die. They had to die as special witnesses. “You are my witnesses,” because they died testifying. We’ve mentioned this maybe several times in the past, but it’s worth bearing in mind—every Christian ought to have this in mind when you talk to others—we have proof that Christ rose from the dead. We have proof that what is written here is an eyewitness account and that it is true, because this is what the apostles testified to, and they were killed for testifying to this. If they had said, “Well, Jesus, He’s just another avatar, you know, He’s just another god, just another great man…” If they had not insisted that Jesus is God, that He raised the dead, that He healed the sick, He did miracles, walked on water—He is divine! He is God! If they hadn’t insisted on that, they wouldn’t have been killed, and we know that no one is fool enough to die for what he knows is a lie, and here they are. They’re all saying, “You can kill me, but I cannot deny it. He did raise the dead. He did rise from the dead.” So, we have a powerful, powerful witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Well, he goes on. John says, “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things. I know that they’re true.” Now, Tom, that doesn’t fit with some of these Jesus Seminar people who say, “Oh, it was written centuries later, written by someone, you know—well, he’s pretending to be John.” This is deliberate deception; that’s not the Bible. "There are many other things that Jesus did—they weren’t written here—and even the world couldn’t contain the books that should be written." Tom, that’s incredible. I mean that’s beyond our comprehension. So what Jesus did was fantastic. But John writes these things—you go back to [John] 20:31, “But these are written (that is, the things are written here) that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” So we believe because of the testimony of the apostles. “And that believing you might have life through his name.” So we are saved through believing in Jesus Christ, believing the testimony of the apostles, believing what He did, and, of course, especially that He died for our sins, and in order to die for our sins, He had to be God. He had to be the One who could do miracles, and this is the gospel that we were talking about earlier, and this is the gospel of John. And, Tom, could it be that we got to the end of it? Been a long time.
Tom: We’ll just launch it to Acts next time, right?
Dave: This is too much to believe! How many times have we said, “Oh, we’re never going to finish this.”
Tom: Dave, we’ve been doing this for four years. [laughs]
Dave: Is that possible? And do we offer that on a DVD or something?
Tom: I don’t know, but our encouragement is, folks, read the gospel yourself, okay? You can do it a lot faster.