There was this guy named Peter. He was one of Jesus’ closest friends. This guy Peter was rarely at a loss for words, it seems. I think he was definitely an extrovert in his day and it’s apparent he often spoke before thinking. Through these four books, the Gospels, you get to see him be encouraged and corrected by Jesus, learn valuable lessons and then fail, be courageous and then totally blow it. He sounds a lot like me.
In fact, Peter argued with Jesus one day about never denying him. He said:
Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.
Well said, Pete. Super noble. Admirable, even. Then Jesus says back to him:
I tell you the truth, Peter — this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.
If you know the story, you know what happens. If you don’t, I’ll tell ya. Believe it or not, Jesus was right and Peter pretended like he didn’t know Jesus when asked by random people who recognized him as being someone who hung around Jesus. Three times this happened. Then, it literally says that after Peter denied Jesus for the third time, “…at that moment a rooster crowed.”
Dang. How Peter must have felt when he heard that rooster…
As I was finishing up these four books, I started reading a bit faster. Kind of like when you’re almost done a race and you speed up a bit. It had been an awesome run but I saw the finish line and I was excited to be done and to feel that feeling of accomplishment. What I didn’t expect was what came around corner in the very last chapter of this last book called John.
What I didn’t expect was to be brought to my knees by two sentences.
It all starts with Jesus talking to this guy Peter after Jesus had risen from the dead. Previously, Peter had blown it as you read above. Now Jesus, in his great love, wanted to show him that his destiny was still intact, even though he had messed up. I just love that about Jesus. Jesus reinstates Peter in a conversation about what he is called to do, about his destiny, never mentioning his mess-ups, only wiping it all away by restoring him to his former place. Jesus pretty much tells Peter what he is going to do with his life and even how he will die. That his life would have immense impact and even his death would glorify God. Jesus spends time with just Peter, telling him these powerful things, encouraging Peter to follow Him no matter what. And what does Peter do?
Peter turns around and sees another one of Jesus’ disciples, another one of Jesus’ friends, one of his very own friends, and says:
“Lord, what about him?”
What about him, Jesus? What about her? What about them? How come they get to do that? Why do I have to do this? Why don’t they have to do it, too? Why do we have to go through this and they don’t have to? Why am I the only one putting in the time? Why are they so incompetent? It’s so simple, how do they not get it? Why does he get to do that and I don’t? Why is that ok for her and not me?
After all that Jesus told Peter, Peter turns around and compares.
It’s a thief that steals our joy. It leaves us feeling pretty good about ourselves when we compare ourselves to someone and we find we’re a little more “better” than the other. Or comparison can leave us frustrated, bitter and maybe even angry if we have compared ourselves to someone and found we’re more competent and we feel the other needs to step it up a little. Or, after comparing, we find ourselves somehow “less than,” we can easily be left feeling insecure, sad and tempted to hide.
Every way you compare, it all builds walls around us and, I believe, hardens our hearts. And a hard heart is most definitely the lock at the door that securely closes people out.
How often do we compare. How often do I compare.
But that’s not the end.
Jesus, in all his patience and compassion, stops Peter in his comparing tracks…and when I read it, stopped me in mine. Jesus replied to Peter with this:
Peter…If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is it to you? You must follow me.
Jesus is literally saying to Peter: “PETER, look at me. So what if I want him to stay alive until the day I come back…so what if he doesn’t have to endure what you do…so what if he’s called to something different, even possibly something “easier” than you. WHAT IS IT TO YOU?? Stop looking at him and look at me – the one thing you’re supposed to do is follow me.”
Tissues, please. The tears have started…
Because I know I compare myself to others to feel a little better about myself. Because I compare myself and end up feeling like crap because I don’t measure up to some standard that I think is right. Because I compare myself so often and end up frustrated because I measure others up to my standard that I think they should be at and it’s annoying when they don’t reach it.
Because I hear Jesus tell me things about my life and my destiny and I turn around and look at what someone else is doing.
Because I’m so very like this guy Peter.
Most of all, I’m broken reading this because I hear my kind King whispering in my ears those same words over my life right now:
“Britt, what is it to you? You must follow me.”
I’m not sure if you battle with comparison but take a moment and let these words go deep:
What is it to you?