“Jesus said to him, “’If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’” John 21:22
At first glance, Jesus’ question—“what is that to you?”—seems a little harsh.
He says to Peter, in effect: “What I have planned for John is none of your business. Stop comparing yourself to him and follow me.”
Jesus allowed Peter no room for self-pity. He gave Peter no time to indulge his thoughts or feelings. Instead, He rebuked him for comparing himself to John.
We might be tempted to think that this is a rather insensitive and poorly-timed response from our Lord. I mean, Peter had just learned he was going to die a martyr’s death—doesn’t he need a little sympathy, compassion, understanding?
After all, a little sympathy and understanding is what we want when we think others have it better than we do. We want others to feel as sorry for us as we feel for ourselves.
And yet, this rebuke was the most loving thing Jesus could have said to Peter.
For Peter to turn his attention away from the Savior and look at John was the worst thing he could do. For Peter to compare his situation side by side with John’s situation was the most detrimental action he could take.
Sinful comparison is a futile and destructive exercise. It robs us of joy. It destroys our peace. It plunges us into despair and self-pity. It distorts our view of a wise and loving God.
And Jesus loved Peter, so He protected Peter from the trap of sinful comparison. He wants to protect us as well.
In John 21:18, Peter got some horrible news:
“Jesus said to [Peter]… ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.’ (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’”
Jesus told Peter that he would eventually die by crucifixion. How did Peter respond?
“Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him….When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about this man?’” (v. 20-21)
Peter “turned” away from the Lord and “saw” his fellow disciple, John.
He began to sinfully compare himself to John.
He began to measure his situation against John’s.
Maybe he thought something like…
Is John going to get a better deal than me? After all, he did get to sit next to Jesus at the Last Supper, and he seems to have an especially close relationship with the Lord.
Does this mean that the Lord is going to let John off with an easy death? Will he die peacefully in his sleep while I have to die a martyr’s death?
Peter couldn’t contain himself anymore. He blurted out, “Lord, what about this man?”
We’ll consider our Lord’s shocking answer when we continue our series.
How do we respond when someone else gets what we want? We compare our situation to theirs. We measure our lot against theirs—especially if we think they have it better than we do.
Why can she eat whatever she wants and stay so skinny and I just look at a piece of chocolate and gain 5 pounds?
Why does she have that gorgeous face and I look so average?
Why can she barely study and make a 4.0, and I have to work so hard for a 2.5?
Why does she have such a beautiful voice and I can’t even carry a tune?
Why can she decorate and sew and paint and do photography, and I can’t even make a pillowcase?
Why does she get pregnant without trying and I am still infertile after all these years?
Why is she married at 20 and I am 35 with no man in sight?
Why does her husband lead their family and mine won’t initiate anything spiritual?
Why does she have a big beautiful home for just the two of them when our family of seven is still crammed into this little townhouse
Ever had thoughts like these?
I knew I wasn’t alone. Whenever we face things in our lives that we don’t want but can’t change, we are tempted to sinfully compare ourselves with others.
The apostle Peter was also tempted to compare. In our new series we’ll consider what the Lord said to Him, and what He says to us.
Thank you so much for all your responses about the beauty book. You’ve been a big help already. Keep the suggestions coming!
And we’re so glad you all have been lovin’ 52home. Janelle still owes us a picture today, I think; so check back soon.
Here are some funny moments two of our readers captured recently…
Anna’s nephew got tired of shopping and found a perfect spot to sit down.
And this is how Nicole found her 22-month old Eli one night. “Maybe,” she wondered, “this is why rails for toddler beds exist.”
The latest news here is that Mom began work on a new book last week!
Her topic is “true beauty” from a biblical perspective. She wants to help women see through our culture’s false standard of beauty and false promises about beauty, so they might be free to pursue a beauty that is attainable, enduring, and precious in God’s sight.
I get to help her with this project, and we want to ask for your help too.
For us, book writing involves a whole lot of talking. We bat around ideas, consider all the angles, and even have a friendly debate or two.
And we want you to join our book conversation! We’ll post questions, and we’d be so grateful if you’d write in with your thoughts. (Please note: we may use your first name, so let us know if you want to be anonymous.)
So, are you ready to help us write this book?
Here’s our first question:
What questions or struggles do you have that you would like to see addressed in a book on beauty?
Please contact us or leave a message on our facebook page and tell us what you’re thinking.
And can we also ask you to pray? Our hearts desire is that God be glorified in the process and content of this book. You’ve prayed us through one book already and we’d be most grateful for those prayers again. Thank you friends!