36 Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterwards.’ 37 Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ 38 Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.
Author: Lisa Neilson
Where are you going?
Why can I not follow you now?
I have read scriptural commentaries that refer to Peter as the “misguided disciple.” I can relate to Peter and I suspect that many others can relate to him as well. Peter has a tendency for brash responses, missing the deeper meaning of what Jesus is trying to tell the disciples. Then when Jesus rebukes Peter, he does not seem to learn. He continues to react passionately from his heart, apparently without listening carefully or giving much thought to the whole message that Jesus is sharing.
The reading for today follows the passage in which Jesus has washed his disciples’ feet then celebrated the Passover meal with them for the last time. Following the meal, Jesus began to prepare them for his coming death and resurrection. In John 13:33-35 he said, “My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you. I give you a new commandment: ‘love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Peter, in his eagerness to always be with Jesus and his need to try to protect Jesus, skips right over the message of love, the instructions to love one another as Jesus loves us. He latches onto the information that Jesus will be leaving and leaps right to his own burning questions, “Where are you going?” “Why can I not follow you now?”
I have found myself in this same mind frame many times. I am so excited about what I want to ask God and what I want to do that I do not take time to listen. We can learn from Peter even as we find ourselves being able to relate to him. Realizing that even the disciples were not always perfect in their relationship with Jesus, we can do our best. Good Friday is a time to be quiet and listen. Please join me quietly listening to hear God’s message to us as we remember the crucifixion and prepare to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.