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Follow Jesus out of deep gratitude

Text: John 13: 36-38

Text verse: John 13:38

Peter has beautiful intentions, but it is beyond God’s will and it is beyond his abilities. Peter remind us of Jesus saying in chapter 10:11 that He would lay down His life for His sheep.

Peter thinks he should lay down his life for Jesus, while it is actually the other way around. Jesus must lay down his life for Peter. Jesus then emphasises Peter’s mistaken perspective by repeating his words. He says, “Will you lay down your life for me?”

That is why Jesus points him to what lies ahead. Before the rooster crows, Peter will deny Him three times.

Here we see something in Peter that also often appears in our lives unintentionally. We may have good intentions, but we think we’re doing God a favour. We live good lives and we make many sacrifices for Him. We go to church and we read the Bible. We care for the poor and give our contributions. Everything for the Lord!

When we reason like this, we still don’t understand what Jesus is teaching us when He says, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17:10).

The proof that our motive is wide of the mark, is clear in our lives when we, like Peter, land up in difficult situations; there where we have to make a choice between what is important to me and God’s glory. We struggle to choose God’s glory because deep down in our hearts we think we are doing God a favour by living a good life. That is why we become rebellious when bad things happen to us, because aren’t we these good and faithful children of the Lord?

We can only change this attitude when we realise that we are deeply indebted to God. Because of our sin, we deserve nothing. Moreover, the only way we can be free from this sin is through Jesus’ crucifixion. He had to die so that we could live.

That is why Jesus points out to Peter, the denial that will soon take place. He does this specifically to make Peter see that He needs Jesus and not the other way around. Only when we understand our deep dependence on Christ’s salvation will we no longer think that we are making up for all our transgressions by leading good lives.

We are like the slave who says that we only do what we are obliged to do. We are deeply in debt to God. We owe our lives to Him.

Yet His love is so great that He no longer even wants to think about our sin (Jer. 31:34, Ps. 103: 12).

Therefore, for the believer, it is not about what we can do for the Lord, but about what the Lord has done for us. Live in this salvation. We are deeply dependent on Christ’s salvation.


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