Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”
First, some background. Jesus had just asked Peter to “feed the sheep” three times, an indirect response to Peter’s three denials of Christ at the cross. Peter may not always have said the right thing, but he was no dummy. He knew Jesus’ comments were because of his denials, and he wanted to take the heat off of himself. What better way to do that than to put the spotlight on someone else? He saw John (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”) and said, “Hey… um… what about him?” I mean, surely Jesus wanted him to do something, since he loved him so much, right? Shouldn’t we talk about how he messed up? What does he need to do? HMMMM??????
I love this passage on so many levels. First of all, Jesus’ tone almost makes me laugh out loud. I can’t count the number of times in a day that I get frustrated with my children and spout out, “You worry about YOU.” That’s essentially what Jesus is saying here. “Mind your own beeswax, Peter!” As a parent, it’s nice to know that I’m in good company with my lack of patience for this behavior. In fact… maybe next time I’ll just say, “As Jesus would say, ‘What is that to you?'” Maybe not.
But here’s one of those double-edged swords. As much as I don’t like to see that nosiness in my children… far too often, I am Peter. I really struggle with jealousy, friends, and yesterday the Lord hit me over the head with this passage. A friend’s news that should have been met with happiness and congratulations instead sent me spiraling into anger and jealousy. It was something that I wanted for myself, for my family. My selfish desires trumped my love for my friend.
And God said, “Really? You’re letting the day get ruined over this?” And then He said, “What is it to you?”
God has a plan for my friend and her family. God has a plan for the woman who is succeeding in ministry where I am still floundering. God has a plan for those who skinnier, richer, more popular, and more talented than I am. God has a plan for all of those families out there without special needs children.
But God has a plan for me too. When I spend my time looking at their paths, envying their journeys, or trying to make myself feel better by looking at their flaws, I’m taking my eyes off of my own path, where Christ is leading me. I’m taking my eyes off of Him. And how can I follow Him when I’m not even looking at Him?
“What is that to you? You must follow me.” Jesus said it to Peter two thousand years ago, and He has said it to me over and over again. Each of us is on a unique journey, and while they all intertwine and we have responsibilities to love and support and encourage each other, we have to recognize that we cannot walk someone else’s path—so why take time away from our own lives worrying about theirs?
This experience has served as another good reminder for me as well. As soon as I started getting down and upset about this situation with my friend, this passage immediately popped into my head. I didn’t have to go find a Bible dictionary and search for “jealousy” to see what God has to say. I learned this passage years ago, and God brought it to mind when it was appropriate. The word of God is “living and active” and God often uses it to speak to us. It’s not only when we’re physically sitting down with our Bibles and reading, it is often when we’re going through a hard time—or even a great time—and God reminds us of an appropriate verse/passage/book from the Bible. But we can’t remember things that we haven’t learned. And we’re much less likely to remember things that we haven’t read in months or years. If I want to hear God speak, I need to be filling my mind with His voice, His words.
So that when I say, “But look at her!”… God can say, “What is that to you?”
So that when I say, “I don’t like myself”… God can say, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”
So that when I say, “Where are you, Lord?”… God can say, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
So that when I say, “Do I even have a purpose?”… God can say, “You are part of my body.”
So that when I say, “How are we going to face the future?”… God can say, “Do not worry about tomorrow.”
Enjoy your journey, friends.