A Disciple After God’s Own HeartJohn 21:1-19Theme: Yes, Lord!In this week’s lessons, Dr. Philip Ryken teaches us about restoration and obedience.
LessonRemember how he taught his disciples: “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:28, 33). That is just what Jesus is enabling Peter to do here – to count the cost of being a disciple after God’s own heart. It will be very costly – costly unto death. At that point Peter had complete autonomy, complete independence. He was his own man. He was able to dress himself and go where he liked. He was even free to walk away from Christ if he chose, to walk away from the shores of the Galilee, to walk away from that breakfast and walk away from his Lord. But if he wanted to be a disciple after God’s own heart, then Peter could no longer be his own man; he must be Christ’s man.
Jesus was telling him how costly that will be; there will come a day when he no longer controls his own destiny, when he is no longer master of his own movements, even a day when he is led as a martyr to his own death. Very probably this phrase about stretching out his hands is used to prophesy that Peter will die by crucifixion. If he wants to be a disciple after God’s own heart, then Peter must live for Christ unto death.
When Jesus calls us to be his disciples, he doesn’t give us a contract with a lot of fine print down at the bottom. It isn’t as if Jesus puts “Follow me to the heavenly kingdom” in big letters and then puts a bunch of stuff about suffering affliction and giving up all your possessions and being hated by the world and dying for Christ’s glory down at the bottom where you can’t really read it. No, Jesus makes the cost of discipleship clear from the very beginning. If you think following Christ is the key to an easy life, then look again at what Jesus said to Peter in big letters right at the top: “Someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
Martyrdom probably came as no surprise to Peter. He followed the Lord for some thirty more years after this meeting by the lake, all the while knowing how terrible his death would be when it finally came. Neither should the costliness of Christian discipleship come as a surprise to us. It should come as no surprise to us because Jesus himself endured suffering unto death and he calls all his disciples to be like him. “We share in his sufferings,” the Scripture says, “in order that we may also share in his glory” (Rom. 8:17). That is what Jesus tells Peter–that he will be led unwillingly to his own death, a death by which he will glorify God (v. 19).
So it is good for us to consider again whether we have counted the cost of following Christ. Your heart may be filled with love for Christ. You may be engaged in the task of feeding Christ’s sheep. But are you prepared to follow Christ even unto death? Do you want to become a disciple after God’s own heart? Are you willing to count the cost of Christian discipleship? Are you prepared to live for Christ unto death? Then when Jesus says, “Follow me,” by his grace and in his strength say, “Yes, Lord!”
Further StudyUsing a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia, see what information you can find concerning the martyrdom of Peter.
ReflectionAre you willing, by God’s grace, to follow Christ at any cost?
PrayerOur Father in heaven, we thank you for the wonderful, and awesome, and sometimes even scary things you teach us from your Word. We thank you for the reminder that you welcome back fallen disciples into your service, and also for the challenge to become disciples after your own heart, those who love the Lord Jesus and are committed to love his sheep and care for them as well. We pray, Father, that you would enable us to count the cost of discipleship, that we might live and die unto your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.