“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: 18-21 (NLT) Tucked away in the closing chapter of the Gospel of John we find this exchange between Peter and Jesus. The Lord had returned to the disciples after the resurrection. Jesus found them as He did originally – fishing without much success. After they cast the nets on the other side as Jesus instructs them, they have a great catch and proceed to have breakfast. It is here that Jesus restores Peter after his dismal failure in denying Christ three times. Yet right after we see this conversation in the key verses. The bulk of which is Jesus telling Peter what glorifying death awaited him in the future. Peter would go on to be crucified upside down. Peter demanded the upside down crucifixion because he felt unworthy to die as his Lord had died. The interesting thing for us today however is the comment immediately following this exchange. Peter, who must have been despondent from his failure, is personally restored by Jesus. The fact that he had returned to his fishing indicates that he may have believed his calling had ended yet here was Jesus telling him that he would in fact die for his calling from God. Jesus then tells Peter to follow Him and instead of jubilant joy at the restoration and the reinstatement of his calling – Peter looks over his shoulder and sees the Apostle John and asks – what about him? 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 (NLT) What is that to you indeed? So many truths for us to consider today. The first one is we need to stop comparing ourselves to others in our walk with God. Beloved, God is the author. He is writing this grand story. I am amazed that He has written any part for me at all. We all do not have the same story or the same path. We need to stop taking the pen out of the hand of God and asking Him – what about this one – or that one? Why do I feel I work so hard and others seem to breeze through their Christianity? Why is that this person got to be a ministry leader and I haven’t? Why is that one so blessed and I cannot seem to find a job? What is that to you? You do not know the full story of anyone’s life but your own. You do not see what is behind that other person’s walk. We need to recognize that comparison is one of the schemes of the enemy. Look at what he has accomplished within the thinking of the world! Sin has been reduced to moral matters of right and wrong served up on a sliding scale instead of a poison that separates us from our Creator. And how does Satan sell this to the world? By having us compare ourselves to other people! Let me assure you that as long as we are comparing ourselves to other people, we will always be able to feel better about ourselves. The problem is we need to feel worse about our sin condition and better about our God! Before I was saved I thought I was a pretty good person by the standards of the world. I never purposefully hurt anyone, spent my life working in social services with the disabled, and tried to help people as best I could. Then I got saved and the light of God shone into who I was apart from everyone else and only in comparison to the holy God who stood before me and I felt like Isaiah: Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” – Isaiah 6: 5 (NLT) To stand before the Lord of Heaven’s Armies in anything other than reverent fear is simply unfathomable to me. There is too much casualness with God these days and too much casualness with sin. To hear some of the new age people in Christianity speak about it they run into God and have a latte with Him. Enough! Besides comparison, we need to stop being distracted when God gives us direction. Jesus tells Peter to follow him and the first thing he is doing is turning around to what is behind him! Beloved, I can guarantee you this – whatever is behind you is no longer relevant for what God has ahead for you. It is only the enemy that wants us looking behind instead of looking forward. The past can shackle us in pain, guilt, or condemnation. There is nothing we can do about what has already passed except learn and move on. I have heard some people lament that God doesn’t have a future for them and I suggest to them that He is probably waiting for them in the present – for them to leave their past behind. As a secondary consideration here we also have the lesson that we need to stop looking reflexively back to see what we might be leaving behind. Sometimes we hold onto our past because we like it. We like the sin God is trying to get us to move away from. We like the old habits and the thought of the future in Christ might unsettle us in our soul. The Bible says however that in all things God is working for our good. So if He says to follow Him, we can be assured that we are leaving nothing behind of any value as we go forward in Christ. Lastly, I love the imperative from Jesus in response – as for you, follow me. Remember beloved this is about YOU. It is not about the other people around you. It is not about the brother in the pew next to you. It is not about your parents, your children, or anyone else that you may consider more than yourself. This is about you and your relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not about your pastor. It is not about your ministry leader. It is not about your church. It is about you and your relationship with Jesus Christ. The command that Jesus gave that day to Peter is the same command He has given to each of us – as for you, follow me. I am afraid that in these last days we see more and more pastor following. We see more and more church following. Please, this is not to say that our pastors and churches are not vitally important but rather that they are secondary to your relationship with Jesus. They are secondary to your following the commands of the Lord. God did not save us so that we could follow and man or woman. He did not pluck us from the ashes of our lives so that we could follow a building – any building. We are to follow Jesus – period! That is why I always chuckle at these “Christian” leadership events where secular leadership principles are glorified. What did the Apostle Paul say? Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. – 1Corinthians 11: 1 (NIV) The church doesn’t need more leaders; it needs more followers. We need to stop looking over our shoulders and comparing ourselves to other people. This is not about anyone except us and our individual walk with God. So what if He has different plans for someone else – what is that to you? As for you – follow Him. After all, He is writing the story and He knows the way. Rev. Anthony.