21:20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
Comparing ourselves to other Christians is never a good idea. “What about him?… what about the disciple who has been closest to you, the one in whom you confided, the one called ‘the beloved’?” Peter does not get a straight answer. Instead, he is to direct his attention to Jesus alone (σύ μοι ἀκολούθει) and not concern himself with whatever blessings God confers on John. So discipleship is not about comparisons or ‘fair’ treatment. It is firstly about loyalty to Jesus. Yes, we walk the pathway of discipleship with others– and we are to love them as Jesus would– but ultimately our allegiance is to Jesus alone.
I am challenged to consider my own discipleship. I want to be following Jesus alone– not competing or comparing myself with others. I am a Christian because Jesus has called me to follow him, regardless of what happens to me or to others. This conclusion to John’s gospel calls me to a life of discipleship, irrespective of whether that results in a comfortable life or a difficult life.
Secondarily, this closing section to John’s gospel also serves to answer the popular myth that John would not die before Jesus returned in glory to rule (v23). Of course, it was nothing more than a myth; but the need for such a clarification implies that, at the time of publication, John had indeed died. The editors of this gospel use this final postscript to dispel that false expectation and, at the same time, ensure that John’s testimony is not discredited.
Implied in verse 23, but now confirmed in v24-25, the gospel’s editors (“we”) now make their presence known. They have taken John’s testimony and ‘published’ it this final form of a gospel.Who are these editors? They are likely a group of ‘teacher/elders’ at Ephesus, the location of John’s later ministry. No doubt their work was superintended by God to ensure that this gospel expressed the inspired word of God, for all people, for all time.
Dear God, I thank you for John’s gospel; that by it you have revealed and continue to reveal yourself to all kinds of people. Thank you for this self-disclosure that allows me to know you truly. Please change me to be more like Jesus as I continue to be nourished by your word. Amen.