John 21:20 – Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them [and] he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”
During the forty days following the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples on a few different occasions. Having spoken to Mary on that first morning and then with the two going to Emmaus, he waited until evening to appear in the upper room. Eight days later he came again to the upper room while Thomas was with them. Then one morning, as seven of them were out fishing, Jesus came to the shore to see them. While he waited, he lit a fire and prepared breakfast for them and when they came ashore, he served them.
Jesus knew that Peter, Thomas, Nathanael and four of the others had been out all night fishing; he also knew that they hadn’t caught a thing. They would be cold, tired, hungry and not a little bit frustrated. Although just seeing Jesus would be enough to lift their spirits, the Lord was concerned about their whole wellbeing. Yes, he could simply speak to them and it would nourish their souls but they were physically exhausted and Jesus cared about that too; Jesus’ love is all encompassing.
What I find particularly fascinating about Jesus is how he used the practical to convey the spiritual. Having cooked and fed the disciples, Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Feed my lambs” and then again, “Feed my sheep.” Jesus had supplied for Peter spiritually and physically and now he was handing over the reins. The directive for Peter was ‘learn from Me and care for my flock’, which was summed up in the words “Follow me” – the same words he had used 3 years earlier.
Peter could simply have accepted the Lord’s will for his life and ended the conversation there but looking at John, he asks, “Lord, what about this man?” ‘Not your concern’ is the basic reply. Here and there throughout the gospels, you get the feeling that there was a little bit of rivalry between some of the disciples, which is not uncommon in a close group. Peter had been given a work to do but he couldn’t help himself from wondering what John’s role was going to be.
We all have a role to play and work to do and we should not be concerned as to whether the Lord has given someone else a better task to do than us. For, 1 – we are all equal in the Father’s eyes, and 2 – each role is uniquely tailored for each person’s gifts.
When the Lord says, “Follow me”, he wants you to follow his lead and open yourself up to new possibilities and opportunities to use the talents he has blessed you with.