Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” John 21:23

Gossip, rumors, inferences, innuendo. It all can be destructive. Here were believers who heard what Jesus said but interpreted it wrong.

Before we rush to criticize them, we probably should examine our own actions. Think of the times we heard something, and what you heard is not what that person actually said. In John’s case, the outcome wasn’t too bad. It’s not always like that though.

Rumors and gossip undermine the truth. Hearing things second or third hand is dangerous because it may not contain all the facts, or it could contain other elements that resemble facts. Often, when the who story comes out, it’s very different from the truth.

We must become vigilant with our tongue and ears. Like David prayed in Psalm 141:3 – “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

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Clear Moral Direction

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:22

Jesus’ message to John (and Peter, and to us) was clear: each of you must follow me. John wasn’t told how he would die and wouldn’t be told. Most of us will not be told.

God gives us clear moral direction through His Word. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

We need to walk firmly in this truth. A deviation from this principle is an exception to the rule and not the norm.

Today, thank God that His word is truthful and powerful, and that we can rely on it.

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A Word

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” John 21:20-21

Peter was genuinely concerned about his friend John, but Jesus’ message about how he would die was only for Peter.

Have you ever read a verse and thought it was the best thing in the world? You then told someone else about it, but that person’s response was akin to “ho hum?” There’s a reason for that. God gives us words for us. Of course, God gives pastors words for their flocks, but He also gives words that are specific for them.

God’s word for us is just that: for us. It’s what we need at that time. Don’t be disappointed that others aren’t as enthusiastic about what He’s given you.

Instead, rejoice that He cares enough to give you a word.

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One Day at a Time

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” John 21:18-19

There are certain passages in the Bible where God revealed outcomes to the people long before they happened: Hezekiah, Nebuchadnezzar, Mary and Joseph, Peter, and Paul all come to mind. He doesn’t do that often, but for whatever reason it’s necessary to give those details. As it happens, Peter did die a fairly old man in 67 AD, probably in his 60s. Perhaps it gave him supernatural boldness and confidence to preach the Gospel. Think about it, if you knew you were invincible until you were “old,” how would that change the way you did things?

For most people, though, that kind of revelation would be too much, especially if the outcome were bad within a shorter period of time (i.e., “you’ll not see age 30” could have a devastating effect on you).

It’s interesting to note that none of those mentioned above asked to know more than what the wisdom of Scripture revealed. Yes, Hezekiah did “negotiate” with God but initially God had revealed the plan to him.

We should be really thankful God gives us what we need and when we need it. One day at a time is all we should seek. If He happens to reveal more than that, we should know that it’s not the normal way God works, but it is one of the ways.

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A Compassionate Man

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. John 21:15-17

These verses have been read and dissected a million different ways. People have studied the questions, the answers, the emotions, the symbolism, even the animals. All agree that Jesus welcomed Peter back into the fold, not that he had left but he had to be feeling fairly low about this failure.

Jesus Christ had compassion on a broken man. That’s pretty much the gist and takeaway of this passage.

And if He has compassion like this on a man who denied Jesus three times, He certainly can have compassion on us. I’m not referring to the Salvation compassion, though it is important. I’m talking about day to day life where we blow it and seek forgiveness. For it’s in the daily grind where we need the steadying hand of God.

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