John 21: 20-25 (MsgB)
Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?” Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You—follow me.” That is how the rumor got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?” This is the same disciple who was eyewitness to all these things and wrote them down. And we all know that his eyewitness account is reliable and accurate. There are so many other things Jesus did. If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books.
Isn’t it sad how easily we human beings can become distracted?
Take Peter, the Rock, for example.
Here he is being reconciled, restored and re-commissioned by the Lord, Himself. Jesus has just done a masterful job (see our blog from last time) of taking one broken & discouraged man and bringing him full circle. A disheartened disciple, once described by the Lord as ‘a fisherman-turned-rock’, is on the verge of throwing in the towel. If we read John’s final chapter carefully, I believe we can surmise that Pete and the whole gang are ready to dump the unique call of God on their lives and simply go back to their day jobs of fishing, tax-collecting, etc. But here they all are, several days after the resurrection, sitting on the seashore with the Great Rabbi. Peter, the man who once bragged to others about his ability to stay strong when everyone else is weak, has been found out and now, the Master is forgiving and reconciling this broken man back into the fold.
What a powerful moment!
And just as Jesus is gazing into the eyes of this broken fisherman, re-inviting Pete to follow Him wherever He goes…
Whoops. Excuse me, Lord. Hold that thought. (Squirrel)
Peter turns his head. (see verse 20).
Over there, Pete. Look behind you. Never mind that the Lord of all Creation is looking you in your one good eye, speaking truth to you that you will need to call upon in days ahead.
Hey Pete. Over here.
Look, it’s John. You know. The one Jesus seems to like better than you.
And bam. With one slight suggestion from Peter’s mind (or did the thought actually originate from Satan?) Peter has been, once again, distracted from the primary message Jesus has for him. And suddenly, now, Peter (and his small, self-centered pea brain) is now consumed about what’s gonna happen to John. Talk about your sudden turn of events!
Isn’t it interesting how we disciples of Jesus can get so damn distracted? Maddening isn’t it?
As I see it, John, the Gospel writer, actually gets a bit distracted here himself. And rather than giving us a proper ending to a story which should focus exclusively on Jesus, John has to spend a couple of sentences here digging himself out of the hole Peter and his goofy distraction has seemed to cause!
Apparently, because of Pete’s distraction that pulls Jesus’ conversation away from what He was saying to Pete, the rumor has now started that John was never going to die! Unfortunately, because of that off-track idea, John has to take a few precious pen strokes in his gospel to discredit these ugly rumors that are making the rounds in the first-century church! Talk about your human distractions that take our attention off of Jesus! (Squirrel)
As we come to the close of this blog series on ‘leadership’ I’d like to suggest that we twenty-first century pastoral shepherds take one final lesson from John’s gospel.
LET’S STAY FOCUSED EXCLUSIVELY ON JESUS.
How about if you and I try to avoid old Pete’s mistake here of turning our heads when Jesus is speaking to us?
How about a new rule for church life in the 21st century?
When Jesus is speaking, we don’t interrupt Him? How about when the Lord is focusing on one subject, we don’t interrupt Him and hop onto another?
Could be, if you and I could truly stay focused exclusively on the Master, Jesus just might be able to finish a sentence or two, enabling Him to accomplish a whole lot more than we could ever hope for or imagine on our own.
Shhh. I think I hear Jesus speaking right now.
Excuse me. Don’t take it personally, but I’m gonna try give Him my complete, undivided attention.
How about you?
My prayer: Lord, forgive me when my short attention span interrupts things that You are doing or saying. Forgive me, Father, when I choose to distract the flow of God’s Kingdom purposes by inserting my personal agendas and thoughts. I choose, Lord, to defer to You. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: When was the last time I chose to defer to God, staying quiet rather than chattering right through a holy moment with Jesus? Am I aware that there are times (like in Peter’s story) when my questions or concerns just might pull Jesus off His agenda? What might it look like in my ministry circles to stay quiet more often than we talk? Might we actually ‘hear’ more from the Holy Spirit if we’d choose to stay still?
So what is God speaking to you today as we follow Jesus the Nazarene, the Leader of the Church?
Between now and the end of 2015, we will be sharing with you a blog series we first developed in 2013. We call it Follow The Leader: Re-defining Successful Leadership from the Gospel of John. In order to keep all 46 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Follow The Leader home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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