So Easily Distracted…

[18] Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” [19] (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” [20] Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” [21] When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” [22] Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” [23] So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” [24] This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. [25] Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. (ESV)

John 21:18-25

How easily distracted are you? Even now as you read this, what sort of things are vying for your attention? When you are doing your school work, what sort of things distract you from the task at hand? 

It is easy for me to working on something, then all of a sudden, find myself wondering, how did I get on facebook? 

We live in a distracting world. Constantly being drawn away from what we need to focus on. Last week we looked at the conversation between Jesus and Peter. We saw how Jesus should be at the center of our lives. Our lives should be shaped by his love for us and our love for him. Our habits, our way of life, should be acts of worship. The world we live in distracts us from that focus. It is all too easy to loose focus. 

Peter and Jesus’ conversation is coming to a close as we reach the end of John’s gospel. Peter had denied Jesus three times and now Peter has professed his love for Jesus three times. Peter has been restored and is now being commissioned again to follow Christ. 

Peter would in fact follow Christ for the rest of his life. Jesus’ enigmatic words spoken here reveal that Peter’s life as a follower of Christ will be difficult. In fact about 30 years after this conversation and 10 years after John wrote down these words. Peter would be martyred, not only martyred but crucified on a cross (many traditions state he was crucified upside down in order to separate his death from Christs). Peter would glorify God in life’s challenges and difficulties. But despite the challenges that Peter faced, he was to Follow Jesus. To not loose sight of Him, to not be distracted.

Jesus’ final call on Peter here, echos the call Jesus gave to Peter a year and a half earlier. “Follow Me”. This is no longer a call for Peter to walk with Jesus while Jesus was on earth and learn from him. But it is a call to live his life focused on Christ. A life that lives the call to follow Christ is a life that shows in every way that they love Jesus. It is a life that is complete transformed by union with Christ. 

For Peter that life brought difficulties, and for us, often we go through trials of many kinds, but similar to Peter we can trust in God’s goodness and find contentment in Jesus. 

Following Christ is not always going to be easy. For Peter, following Christ meant he would be martyred. For me and you it may not, we will find persecution in different areas of our lives. A lot of the time Christianity can be painted as a thing that when you follow Jesus, all of a sudden everything is fine and dandy. But that is not always the case. It is not always easy. But we can learn to be content. We can rest in the Love of Christ. Going to him when things are hard or out of hand. We can rest in God’s sovereignty, knowing that he has a plan.

When we truly and fully follow Christ, we begin to stop looking at ourselves and begin looking exclusively at Christ, “[14] the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; [15] and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (ESV) – 2 Corinthians 5:14–15. 

When we follow Christ we no longer want to live for ourselves, but we want to live for Christ. Hudson Taylor, a missionary in the late 1800’s, to the Chinese said this after being introduced as a man that had given his life to the Chinese out of love for them, “No, not because I loved the Chinese, but because I loved God”. He was willing to go, and suffer, and eventually die, not because he loved the Chinese, but because He loved God and he followed God. Are you following God, like you should, setting aside your comfort and convenience because you love Jesus more than anything else?

Eventually in Peter and Jesus’ Conversation, Peter notices that someone is following them, the disciple whom Jesus loved. John. John had a very close relationship with Jesus. John would sit close to him and meals. The person who sat the closest that they could lean against someone else, as our text says in verse 21, was someone who is extremely close to the host. John was close to Jesus. 

This caused Peter to be curious about what Jesus would say to John. Peter had just been called to focus on Jesus and nothing else, no matter the consequences, and now here, is thinking about someone else. He is distracted. Jesus rebukes him saying, ““If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”. Peter, do not be concerned so much with my plan for other people, focus on following me. Don’t loose sight of your call. Just as much as God had a specific plan for how Peter would bring glory to God, He also had a plan for John. Peter was to not be concerned with that. He was to be faithful in following Jesus. Faithful to the plan that God had for him.

Following Christ and following God’s plan for us shows itself in different ways for different people. Some people will go through really hard things, some won’t, some seem to make it “big” while others don’t. Some are talented in music, some, like me, are not. How we follow christ, what God has planned for us, looks different from person to person. This is something to be celebrated and it is something for us to encourage. One of the best ways that we can help others grow in their walk with God is to help them to respond to God in worship in new ways. If someone is talented with art, we can encourage them to draw to the glory of God. We all can and should follow Christ, and that following can and should show itself differently for each person. It is all part of God’s plan. Each of us is talented in different ways to point others to Jesus.

John ends his gospel letting us know who it was that wrote these words down. We know that everything that he had said is true. He was there, he saw it, he was careful to bear witness. We also know the John’s testimony is sufficient for understanding who Christ is. John had goal in mind as he wrote. He wanted us to know who Jesus is and find life in him. There is a lot more that could have been written, but every story, every miracle, every conversation John recorded was written so that we could know who christ is. 

John closes his gospel, with a conversation between Jesus and Peter. Peter is forgiven and restored and called to follow Jesus and not be distracted by anything else. To not be concerned so much with God’s plan for everyone else but to trust God’s sovereignty and be faithful to his call.

If you have recognized your need of a savior and have found salvation in Christ alone you have a call on your life. The same call that Peter had, we have. We are called to follow Jesus, to keep him at the center of our lives. To let our lives reflect his love for us and our live for him.

Yet, it is so easy for us to be distracted from that. Satan would want nothing else for us to not spend time building a lifestyle of worship. He wants us to be the center of our lives. What distracts you? What is keeping you from following Him? 

Take some time and think about that. Jesus gave up everything for us, “he did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped”. As we learn more and more what that truth means, we can and should give him more and more of our lives. Be faithful to follow him in all things, watch out for distractions. It is so easy to loose focus. 

Be faithful to Christ. Follow him. Don’t be distracted for anything else. Focus on him. It may be hard. It may look different from the other person. By all means, follow Christ.

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