John 21 v18-19
“Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Do you know what a ginnel is? I live in the Midlands region of England and they don’t have ginnels down here, but they do.
A ginnel is northern English for a narrow passage between buildings. Also known as alleys. Many people wouldn’t walk down a ginnel in the dark on their own. But they are often places that bring you to your destination a lot quicker.
Peter is back. Re-installed and soon to be the main leader of the Church. However Jesus then warns Peter of what is in front of him.
When you are old: Jesus indicates to Peter that he is going to live a life of service. This is good news.
You will stretch out your hands: indicating the crucifixion of Peter. This is not such good news.
That is why John uses the same word that Jesus used of his own crucifixion: glory!
Light, brilliance, an explosion of His presence, Glory! “Father the time has come, glorify your son.” (17:1)
The only way God is glorified is when you die on a cross. What did the glorification of Jesus look like? It looked like nails, thorns, blood and humiliation. But it also looked like a repentant thief, a believing centurion (surely he was the Son of God) an historical and theological curtain torn in two, a huge earthquake, rocks that were split and graveyards that were emptied, Glory!
Whether in death or in life, we too take up our cross and we take on burdens that weigh heavy and we are led down paths we would rather not go down. Outside influences come upon us. But we willingly lay our lives down. It is total surrender and through it we bring glory to God.
Church tradition has it that between AD67 and 70 Peter wrote 2 Peter from a prison awaiting his death. I am sure his encounter with Jesus on the lake shore was very much in his mind as he was led out to be crucified.
He resisted being crucified the way his Lord was, he never saw himself worthy enough to die the same way. He asked to be crucified upside down and his wish was granted.
He had wrote, “I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” (2 Peter 1:14-15) Peter went down a path he didn’t want to go. But he did it and it brought glory to Christ. May we live our lives in the shadow of Peter!