A Price Worth Paying

After Jesus explained that He would soon be departing but He would return (John 16:19-28), the disciples reaffirm steadfast loyalty to Him. He spoke plainly about His relationship with the Father; now they knew He came from God and, implicitly, He had to return. But He sensed their faith would be short-lived.  Indeed, it was more bravado than anything else. They would scatter in the face of opposition, but He would not be alone, for He had the Father. Together, even with the world against Him, He had overcome the world.

What is the content of this knowledge that is eternal life? Jesus described it as revelation of the Father’s name. In this sense, the name made the power of God manifest; it revealed the presence of the Father in the community. To remain in the community of the saved, the disciple needed to “keep the word” of the Father given to them through the Son.  He had finished His work, to unify humanity with divinity, to give eternal life to those who would receive “the word.”

Later, in John 21, Jesus served a morning meal of fish to Peter and six other disciples after their fishing excursion. Afterwards, the Lord asked him three times about his affection for his Master; this obliviously mirrored the three times Peter rejected Jesus during the Passion. The passage translated devotion (“apage” in Greek) as “love” and commitment of a friend (“phileo” in Greek) as affection. In either case, devotion and commitment to the Christ were two sides of the same coin, for faith required both. After each question, Jesus commanded Peter to take care of the community in terms of a shepherd (“feed…tend…feed”). The leader of the community would continue the type of service the Lord offered as the “Good Shepherd” (John 10:1-21).

Leadership based upon commitment and devotion had a cost. Over time, Peter would lose his autonomy and his prerogative. Instead, this would lead to his martyrdom, just as John 21:18 implies (“When you were young, you dressed yourself and walked where you wanted to. But when you are old you will stretch out your hands and another will dress you and carry you where you don’t want to go”). That was the cost of discipleship, a price worth paying.

Let us reflect on how our devotion and commitment to the Lord may have cost us.  What have we needed to overcome to make it worth the cost?


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