John 21: 20 – 25
20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
Peter has been instructed by Jesus as to his mission in life, and his destiny. Now he turns to see John approaching, ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’, who leant on Jesus at the Last Supper, and Peter asks Jesus about what will happen to him in his life.
John is the one Apostle who not martyred. According to St Irenaeus, he lived into the reign of Trajan (AD 89-117), and rumours had circulated that John was not to die. John, therefore, wishes to tell people that this is not what Jesus had said; he repeats Jesus’ words, which seem mysterious.
We may interpret Jesus’ words as instructing Peter to focus on his own mission in life. Peter was curious, but Jesus restates his previous command: Follow me. We may often feel that our future and those of our friends are uncertain. We know, though, that the important thing is to follow Jesus, and he will show us the path ahead.
St John’s Gospel has brought us to the end of Christ’s time on earth, and in our celebrations to the eve of the gift of Pentecost. John, or perhaps his disciples, now includes two verses which affirm the historical veracity of what has been told us of Jesus. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, John’s experience of the life of Jesus has been at first hand: he was there to witness the teachings, the life and the miracles of our Lord. There will be much that has not been included, and perhaps it is no exaggeration to say that ‘the world itself could not contain the books that should be written’ should every work of Jesus be recorded. There is always something more to discover about Jesus, infinitely more, as he continues through all history to shape our lives.
‘Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.’ 1 John 5 1-4