“Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”
Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” John 21: 21 – 22
It is noticeable throughout the Gospel of John that there appears to be some jealousy and competition between John and Simon Peter. I wondered to what extent Peter was jealous of the relationship between John and Jesus.
John 13: 21 – 26 depicts a scene where it is commonly believe that the ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’ is John and he is leaning on Christ’s breast. Jesus has just told the disciples that one of them will betray Him. Peter motions to John to ask Jesus who that person is. Jesus answers John in a private conversation to which Peter is excluded from.
John 18: 15 – 18 sets another scene where Jesus has been taken before the High Priest. Peter follows and it is assumed that the ‘other disciple’ that followed was John. John went into the courtyard with Jesus but Peter stood outside the door probably because he was afraid. In his fear, Peter went on to deny Jesus three times compared with John who stood unashamedly with Christ.
In John 19:26 – 27 Jesus gives to John the responsibility to care for His mother in her old age, suggesting that He trusted him enough to do this. Peter at this point in time was probably somewhere feeling disappointed in the fact that he had denied Christ.
John 20:3 tells us that Peter and John went out to the tomb to find out where Jesus’ body had gone. They both ran together and John seems to take delight in expressing how he outran Peter. Nevertheless when Peter caught up, Peter went in front of John into the tomb.
In John 21:7 John tells Peter that it is Jesus on the beach, Peter dresses as quickly as possible and runs ahead of the others to get to Jesus first.
The final liaison is in John 21: 20 – 21 when Peter is walking on the beach with Jesus, Peter turns around and sees John following. He asks Christ who is going to betray him and suggests that it might be John. Peter says “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Seemingly and for whatever reason, possibly jealousy, Peter was trying to sabotage Jesus’ relationship with John and make John look bad. Peter’s poor insight into his own sin is clear, he is so worried about John taking Christ away from him, that he attempts to make John look guilty of the sin he actually committed – betrayal of Christ.
Jesus answers in verse 22 “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” In other words Jesus calls Peter out, He says even if He decides to give John eternal life on earth right now, it has nothing to do with him, Peter’s business is to follow Christ.
Whether we realize it or not, we have all taken part in ‘one-upmanship’. There is someone who gets under our skin, or we just feel the need to be better than they are, and if we are not better than they are, we need to bring them down to our level. This is exactly what Peter was trying to do.
It seems there are several occasions where John, through no particular effort on his part appeared to have a steadfast relationship with Christ (let us not forget that John is writing about himself in this gospel. The other gospels do not record John in such a favorable light). It seems that Peter was competing with him, even though John was just doing ‘his thing’.
I know I have experienced this in my life, where I’m just getting on with my life and people are competing with me or comparing themselves to me and I have no idea why and to be honest I really don’t care. God has given us all different gifts and He may be calling me to do one thing, and someone else to do another. We’re not supposed to all be the same. Jesus’ command is clear to us all. ‘Don’t worry about what he or she is doing, mind your own business and follow Me’.
Dear Father in Heaven
Your Holy Book has a word for us in every avenue of our lives. We are reminded that the disciples were human, just like us and were eligible to succumb to every sin as we are. I am thankful that the Bible depicts them as real people who fail, just like I do, but who through repentance and forgiveness can be restored like Peter.
Teach us to be concerned about our lives and not to compare ourselves with anyone else. Teach us to have a secure relationship and identity in you, such that we do not feel the need to ‘put others down’ in an attempt to elevate ourselves. Lastly, teach us to pursue the gifts you have given to us, without trying to be like anyone else, recognizing that we are all different. Help us to pray for those who may try to compare or compete with us and that we are not by distracted by it, but that we remain steadfast in our walk with You.
In Jesus’ Name