Tom: We are continuing with the gospel, and we are in the Gospel of John. We are in chapter 13, just at the end of chapter 13, and, Dave, I believe we left off at verse 36: “Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.” Peter was always right up there, wasn’t he?
Dave: Yeah, he’s thinking he can do something that he can’t do. This is a very interesting passage, Tom. I know we sort of talked a little bit about it last week. Peter says…well, the Lord is going away—now they don’t understand that.
Tom: But He told them….
Dave: Yes, he explained to them.
Tom: …time and time again.
Dave: Right. He is going to die for their sins, He’s going to his Father’s house of many mansions. We get that in the next chapter, He is going to explain.
Tom: Right. One of the stiffest rebukes of Peter that we have in the Scriptures was because Jesus had explained what He was going to do and Peter thought it was not the thing to do.
Dave: Exactly. “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now.” Well, why can’t I follow you, Lord? Well, for two reasons: He’s going to His Father’s house of many mansions, but first of all, He is going to the Cross to die for our sins. Now He had said to His disciples—this is interesting—“Except you deny yourselves, take up the cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciples.” We had better not get off on that, Tom, but I think that had a special application for people in His day—that you can’t make that apply to us today in the same way. What Jesus meant was, I am going to die on a Cross, and if you are going to be faithful to me to the end, pick up your cross right now—that’s where we are going.
Now we don’t have to literally die on a cross today to be faithful to Christ to the end, but His disciples at that time would have had to do that. But there was something deeper than that. In fact, now He is telling them, “You can’t do it.” Because He is not just going to die physically on the Cross; He is going to pay the penalty for our sins. So they could not follow Him in that. It wouldn’t have been right for the dozen disciples to all be on crosses, too.
Tom: It would have looked like a collective sacrifice.
Dave: Right. It would look like they are also paying the penalty, like they are doing exactly what Jesus did. So He says, “You can’t do it…”
Tom: Which is impossible.
Dave: Exactly. So, there are two or three reasons why they couldn’t follow Him now, even though He had said, “You’ve got to take up your cross.” Now He says, “Guys, you’re not going to make it.” And in fact, they all forsook Him and fled.
“Why can’t I follow thee? I will lay down my life for thy sake.” Well, Peter is more or less an example of all of us. We have great ambitions. We think we are—no limit to what I could do for the Lord. In fact, we are very weak. That’s hard to admit, and Paul found that out, you remember? He said He had this thorn in the flesh—I don’t know exactly what it was, but “I besought the Lord three times that it would be taken from me.” It must have been something that inhibited him in his preaching, or, I don’t know, his usefulness to the Lord, and that was why he wanted it to be taken away. And Christ said to him: “My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” That’s what we need. Some of us are too strong to be used of the Lord because we are relying on our own strength.
Tom: Dave, can I give you an example from my own life? Sometimes I think that when it comes to my family, that if something came up, somebody came in with a shotgun or something like that, in my heart and my mind, I know that I wouldn’t even hesitate to protect my family. Now, listen to this. On the other hand, I’m sitting in front of the TV. I’m watching the last minute and a half of an NBA playoff game, right? It’s down to—the score is tied—it could go into overtime, or one team is just behind the other one, and Peg says, “Tom, could you go in and pray with the kids?” Man, you know, I mean—that is—you see what I mean? We are so…I identify with Peter, you know, I have the big ideas, but when it comes down to the small things, the things that you’d say, “There’s no…what is your problem here?” It’s difficult, Dave.
Dave: Well, of course, you can always think, “I don’t have to pray this very instant. Now we could let this go…”
Tom: Yeah, but you know that’s not the point. The point is, what am I choosing here? And I think the big things—and who knows whether I would have the heart, except by the grace of God. I know that’s what it all comes from.
Dave: It would have to be in the grace of God. Well, after Peter has pledged his undying loyalty, Jesus said, “Peter, I’ve got something to tell you. You’re not going to live up to it! Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, the cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice.” That was a shock to Peter, and yet Jesus is telling him ahead of time.
Tom: This wasn’t determined. Jesus knew. He knew Peter’s heart; He knew the situation.
Dave: This was not predestination, as you point out. God had not predestined him to be a coward; God had not predestined him to run for his life and try to protect himself. And then, when his conscience bothers him—you know, it says “they all forsook him and fled”—and then when his conscience bothers him, he follows. Peter is remembering what he said. He feels guilty about it, and he is following at a distance, another gospel tells us. And he even goes in to the high priest’s house and watches. Apparently, he can see Jesus; Jesus can see him. And he is confronted by some of the people that were there and by a couple of maids who say, “Well, you are one of his disciples, aren’t you? You sound like a Galilean—your accent—you can’t fool me.” And three times, Peter says, “I know him not!” And finally, he says it with oaths and cursing to protect himself!
And then Jesus looks at him, catches Peter’s eye, and Peter goes out and weeps bitterly. He experienced, or learned, his own weakness and that without Christ, he is not going to make it. First of all, Christ has to die for his sins, something that He must do for all of us. And then, Paul put it so well: “I’m crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live yet not I but Christ lives in me. The life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, gave Himself for me.” So Christ is going to have to come and live His life in us for us to be what He really wants us to be.
Tom: It’s the only way possible.
Dave: Yeah. You know, the Bible doesn’t paint these men as heroes. If it were not written by the Holy Spirit, but written by men, especially by some of the apostles…
Tom: We’d have some esteem-builders here!
Tom: We’d have chapter after chapter…but we don’t find it.
Dave: Right. It tells the truth. Now, Jesus has said something really tough—really discouraging: “You’re all going to forsake me. Peter, you’re going to deny me!” And then, what does He do? He encourages them. Chapter 14: “Let not your heart be troubled.” Now, that’s—Tom, that is so kind, so compassionate. The scripture says, “He pities us. He knows we are but dust.” And “like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those that fear him.”
And now having given them the devastating news that they’re all going to forsake Him, they’re going to deny what they have pledged in the last several years that they’ve been following Him, then He says, “But don’t be troubled. I love you anyway. And turn from your confidence in yourself.” He says, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”
Tom: Now, Dave, isn’t that a little bit problematic? Some would say, “You see? If Jesus were God, He wouldn’t have made a distinction here.”
Dave: Well, that’s the very point that He’s making. “You believe in God—that’s all you believe in. You should only believe in God. Believe in me, because I’m God. You’re going to have to include me in this. I am God.” He has already said it a number of times. “Before Abraham was, I am.” And they took up stones to stone Him. “In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” That’s one of the great comforts that we have, Tom. Is there something hidden? Something that Jesus left out? Something we ought to know that He didn’t tell us? No. He has told us all that we need to know. And all that we can understand.
Tom: And more than we can comprehend in a lifetime.
Dave: “If it weren’t so, I would have told you. But I’m going to go prepare a place for you, and there are many mansions in my Father’s house, and one day, I’m going to come back and take you to be with me.” It’s just so amazing! It’s so wonderful. It’s so kind. And it’s so thrilling! There is nothing like this in Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, you name it, nor in false Christianity—only in true Christianity.
Tom: Dave, we’re just about out of time, but let me read verse 3: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am, there you may be also.