John 13:36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times. ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
Peter was a follower of Jesus and prepared to go anywhere with Him. He was convinced of the reliability of his own words “I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus knew that night Peter was going to learn the answer to his question “Lord, why can I not follow you now?” Jesus knew Peter’s preparation to “follow afterward” must include understanding the deniability of human reliability.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus knew the whole plan! He had no illusions about the present situation or that every detail would become a reliable part of Peter’s future.
What does it say about people?
Peter’s mind could not comprehend the unpredictability of his own heart.
Is there truth here for me?
Every follower of Jesus knows this story. Any believer who’s ever professed an “absolute” belief has discovered the reliability of their words challenged by their own unpredictable heart. My heart wants to believe the faith God has given me is a monolithic [formed of a single large block of stone] superstructure that will stand up against every challenge but then I read and ponder: why wouldn’t God choose the same preparation He required of Peter for me, or for you? The deniability of my own human reliability is where my faith discovers it’s true dependence on the grace of God. Grace reveals the truth that Jesus is less interested in unmovable, monolithic superstructures than He is in hearts that will be reliably prepared by Him to “follow afterward.”
Ezekiel 36:23b, 26 & 27 …Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes…26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.