Now You Can Follow Me – by Rick Campanelli
Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” John 13:36-38
Peter thought he was ready, willing and able to follow Jesus — even to death, he says. But he was about to find that out the hard way what Jesus already knew: he was willing, but he wasn’t ready or able.
In just one week, though, Peter would be ready. In that week, Jesus would realign the entire cosmos, and Peter would hear Jesus say what Peter longed to hear: “Follow me.”
Peter was going to have to have a big week on his own, with a steady diet of humiliation, disappointment, fear, and confusion. He had to watch as Jesus let himself get arrested, convicted and killed. When Peter tried to resist the arresting mob by cutting off the ear of the High Priest’s lackey, Jesus not only didn’t thank him, but publicly rebuked him. When Peter tried to stay close — maybe hoping to see Jesus do something to save himself and bring about this kingdom He always talked about — Peter ends up lying and running away. Peter wasn’t ready or able, and now he wasn’t even willing.
And when Jesus died on the cross, Peter wasn’t able to follow him. At least, not yet.
By the end of the week that would all change because Jesus would rise from the dead. And then, Jesus comes looking for Peter, makes him dinner, and says “Follow me.” He even tells him that means that Peter will follow Jesus to death.
What made Peter both ready and able? The risen Jesus has conquered death, so that now the words he told Peter and the disciples earlier have come to pass: even if you lay down your life, you will not lose it. Even if you are put to death, Jesus told them, “not a hair on our head will be harmed.” (Luke 21.18).
We want to be ready, willing and able, right? We want to be able to say, and mean it, “I will lay down my law practice, my education, my prestige, my income, and my whole life for you.” But Peter shows us that as admirable as passion, fortitude and courage are — when the time comes, they won’t make us ready. What makes us ready is the power and the presence of Jesus.
And if, like Peter’s was for a time, our current diet is humiliation, disappointment, fear or confusion, we might take heart. In a little while we will discover that Jesus is looking for us, He is a making dinner for us, He will eat it with us (Rev. 3.20), and He will never leave us (Matt. 28.20).
And He is saying to us, right now, “Follow me.”