John 21, 20-23
Something to read
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, 'Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?' When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, 'Lord, what about him?' Jesus said to him, 'If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!' So the rumour spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, 'If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?'
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
The disciple whom Jesus loved is usually assumed to be John (often referred to as John the Evangelist or John the Divine). He is often known as the beloved disciple. Many scholars do not believe that John actually wrote the Gospel that bears his name or the epistles that are also named for him (1st, 2nd, 3rd John) or Revelation.
Yet, John was the only apostle to stand with Jesus when he was crucified – the other male disciples went into hiding. While he was still on the cross, Jesus entrusted his mother to John's care (John 19:26-27).
So, it may be that Peter, who was just reinstated as leader of the apostles, was wondering about John and John's role. Jesus replies that he shouldn't worry about John – Peter's task is to follow the Lord.
The question of who is in charge is common in life. In fact, human beings seem to constantly create hierarchies for everything. In the international development field that I work in, I often hear people asking who the 'go to' person is.
What is interesting in the Gospels is just how unimportant this question is to Jesus. When the disciples were arguing among themselves about this issue, Jesus replied 'If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.' (Mark 9:33-35)
Peter is considered by the largest church traditions in Christendom (Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy) to be the first bishop of Rome and the first Pope.
The most traditional title for the Pope is servus servorum Dei, which is Latin for 'servant of the servants of God'. Jesus identifies leadership not with authority or power, but with humility and a willingness to serve.
Something to do
What opportunities might there be for you to serve and empower others? There are many ways we can be of help. What ways do you think you could serve God by serving other human beings?
Something to pray
A Prayer of Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961)
You who are over us,
You who are one of us,
You who are also within us,
May all see you - in me also.
May I prepare the way for you,
May I thank you for all that shall fall to my lot,
May I also not forget the needs of others.
Give me a pure heart - that I may see you.
A humble heart - that I may hear you,
A heart of love - that I may serve you,
A heart of faith - that I may abide in you. Amen.
Today's contributor is the Rev James Matarazzo Jr, a United Church of Christ (USA) minister from Boston, Massachusetts. He moved to London in 2007. Jim is a founding member of INERELA+ (International Network of Religious Leaders Living with and Affected by HIV and AIDS), a Christian Aid partner. He is now working on a DPhil in Systematic Theology at Oxford University.