Wednesday, August 10, 2011

That's Just Wrong

[Jesus said to Peter] I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.” Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” (John 21:15-21)

Last week, I was driving back to Edgefield from Aiken on Highway 19. I was almost to the overpass near the prison, when I spotted a car in my rear-view mirror coming up quickly. I was in a no-passing zone, but the young lady paid that no attention as she raced around me like I was sitting still.

She continued speeding up the incline of the overpass, but when she reached the top, I saw her brake lights come on. I knew what that meant! I wasn't far behind her by that point, and was able to see a South Carolina Highway Patrol car meet us both at the bottom of the hill.

Although I know it was wrong, I have to confess that I was secretly delighted when I saw the patrol car. I almost smiled thinking about the knot that must have risen in the young lady's stomach as she topped the hill and saw the police. The truth is that it probably had less to do with the fact that she had broken several traffic laws, and more to do with me feeling that she had wronged me in some way or put me in danger. I felt a touch of vindication.

First, she passed the patrol car, then I did. I checked my mirror, waiting to see his brake lights. Imagine my shock when the trooper simply drove calmly over the hill and away from us. As I watched him drive away, I also watched the young lady speed up and pass another driver just past Billy's Truck Stop. I had the same thought most of you would have had. "If that had been me, I would be in custody now!"

My thoughts then turned to how unfair the whole situation was. I actually asked God why people get away with things like that, but I seem to get caught all the time. To my surprise, I knew God was speaking to me, in my heart, and He led me to the passage in John I have quoted at the beginning and end of this column.

In the passage from John 21, Jesus had risen from the dead, and had appeared to the disciples. They had just finished eating breakfast, and Jesus, it seems, pulled Peter aside to talk to him. After all, Peter was the one who probably felt the most guilt after denying three times that he even knew Jesus.

Jesus wanted to do two things in this conversation. First, He wanted to assure Peter that he was forgiven for his denial. Second, Jesus wanted to forewarn Peter about the type of death he would suffer for Christ. Jesus’ prophecy did come to pass. Most historians agree that Peter was sentenced to crucifixion, but requested to be hung upside down, because he felt unworthy to be executed in the same way as Jesus.

After Jesus told Peter that he would be executed for his faith, his immediate reaction was to look over at John. John never calls himself by name in his gospel, but he makes it very plain that Peter is referring to him. The disciples always had a strong rivalry and it reared its head again.

To paraphrase, Peter is saying to Jesus, “Ok, I understand that I will have to die for you, but what about John? Will he suffer and be executed also?” Peter wanted to make sure everything was fair. However, Jesus’ answer must have shocked Peter. Jesus told him that it was not any of his business if John lived or died.

We all want fairness. If I get caught speeding, I want everyone else to get tickets when they speed also. If I obey the rules, I want everyone else to obey them or be punished. As Christians, we are called to live as sons and daughters of God. We are not to live for Him as long as everyone else does. We are called to live for Him regardless of what others do.

Do you worry that evil is not always punished in this world? Rest assured that God sees and knows about it and that He will deal with it in His way, in His time. You cannot make others live life the way you want them to live, any more than they can force their lives on yours. Give all of your sense of fairness to God and let Him lead you in the life He has chosen for you!

Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow Me.” (John 21:22)

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