“Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”
The context that precedes our verse has Jesus repeatedly asking Peter if he loved Him, and charging Peter with the assignment of feeding His sheep. Jesus then told Peter that he would glorify God by His death, and the Lord said to him, “Follow thou me.” Peter then turned to John and said to Jesus, “what shall this man do?”(21) Our text records Jesus’ response. “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”
Although His words were very direct, Jesus was not being disrespectful or sarcastic to Peter. He was teaching Peter an important lesson about His will, a lesson that we all should seek to engraft into our own understanding. Peter had just been called to follow Jesus and was then informed that one day he would be martyred for His Lord. If Peter were called upon to die, would John face the same? Jesus said, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” God’s will is not the same for every one of His children. Some will suffer more than others. Some will appear to have it easier than others. It was God’s will that Peter give his life for the Savior. Knowing this, Peter immediately wanted to know what the future held for John. But it was not for Peter to be concerned with God’s will for John.
Many have felt the same way. We have wondered if others have endured the same things we have endured. It is all too common for us to compare our experiences with others. Has it been harder for me than for my fellow Christians? WHAT IS THAT TO THEE? It is not wise to try to make certain that God’s will for one person is equal to His will for another. God is the sovereign Judge and He does all things well. He knows what is best for each of us. He knows what will bring the most glory to Himself.
The failure to understand this can lead to serious spiritual problems. We all have probably known Christians who have struggled with bitterness because it seemed that
their problems were more severe than their friend’s problems. It is not our business to make these kinds of comparisons. We are taught to accept God’s will for our lives and thank Him as we appropriate His sufficient grace. Whatever God’s will is for others, we can know that God is perfectly wise in allowing it. We can trust God while following His will for us.