Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Jesus said where He was going they could not come. “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ (John 13:33). So, Peter asked “Where are you going? I want to go too.”
Peter was a master of disobedience. We should take note, his disobedience did not come from rebellion. It came from false expectations and ignorance. But nonetheless, it was disobedience.
We may admire Peter’s dedication and intention. Peter was all in. But that was the cause of his disobedience. Rather than listening to his Lord, he stood in judgment of His Lord.
He felt the need to correct Jesus. No, Jesus, you are wrong the Messiah will not die. No, Jesus, you should not wash my feet. I should wash yours. No Jesus, don’t limit your washing to my feet, wash me all over. No, Jesus, I will go with you. You don’t understand Jesus, I would give my life for you.
Disobedience to Christ does not come only from rebellion. It may come from over-zealousness. We are to be content with what the Lord has shown and given us to do. We are to do what He commands us without trying to improve the command. We are to subject all our desires to God. And our desires are not to go beyond their proper bounds.
Peter overestimates His own abilities. He overestimated his dedication. Peter will go where Christ goes but not yet. Peter is not ripe for the cross. Peter is like a stock of corn not yet ready for harvest. Peter needs to grow and ripen. He will follow, but only when he is ready.
Christ bears with us while we are tender and delicate. We too need to be gentle with those who are weaker. We are to encourage them. Even if their progress is slow. We need to be patient so long as they remain on the correct path.
Christ tells Peter he cannot come. And Peter’s response is once again to challenge his Lord.”Why not? I would die for you!” Peter’s attitude is very much like our own. From the time we are born we think we are capable of more than we are. We think we are stronger than we are.
Peter promises a steadfast resolve. He was unshakable. Or at least he thought he was steadfast. There is no doubt he was sincere. But his confidence was not well placed. Peter’s confidence was in his own ability. Peter was not steadfast. He was arrogant. Peter could do nothing without the strength of God. Peter’s arrogance prevented him from realizing his strength comes from God. And he was challenging God Himself.
Like so many of us do. We promise God one thing or another. When we make such promises, like Peter, our arrogance blinds us. We think we are capable of fulfilling the promise. We do not realize our strength comes from the Lord. We have nothing to offer Christ. We are reliant on His mercy for everything.
Christ rebuked Peter for his arrogance. At this point, Peter is the type of soldier who is brave until someone fires the first shot. Peter would later grow. But he was not yet the ready to follow Christ, regardless what he thought.
Peter later learned to distrust his own strength. But false humility was a struggle Peter had until his death. Legend has it that Peter did not feel worthy to die as his Lord died on a cross. So they crucified Peter upside down. Peter to his very death tried to go beyond what Christ had commanded. In doing so Peter failed to yield to Christ. Yet, Christ used Peter as an apostle. We can take heart in that. Even when we disobey we cannot frustrate God’s purpose. As Christ loved Peter, He loves us. As Christ had mercy on Peter, He has mercy on us. Praise God!