Reflection on John 21.20-25 (Easter 7: Saturday; Easter Season)

A reflection for Easter 7: Saturday, 27 May 2023, on John 21.20-25

John 21.20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’ So the rumour spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’ 

This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. 


Jesus said to Peter: ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’

One of the most enduring phrases from childhood is: It’s not fair! usually delivered with a profound passion and sense of righteous indignation. As we grow older, most of us develop a world-weariness that reconciles us to the fact that life can be ‘unfair’! Sadly, the poor, the meek and the hungry are not always shown mercy, comfort and relief in this world. And worse still, the rich, the full and the mocking do seem to rise to the top of the social pyramid.

The phrase: It’s not fair! is implied in Peter’s question about his fellow disciple, just as it is implied in the attitudes, words and actions of many who profess a faith in Jesus Christ today. Rather than focusing on our relationship with Jesus and how it might be nurtured and developed to the glory of God, we look around us and leap to that phrase time and time again: It’s not fair! As we see the apparent differences between our relationship with God and that of other people we seek to attach blame and fault. Instead of looking at our own shortcomings we rush into apportioning bias and prejudice to others … even to God!

In today’s reading we encounter a very human Peter who rushes to the wrong conclusion. We also encounter, once again, those two words that sit at the beginning of every pilgrimage of faith: Follow me.

Our human sense of justice … and injustice … fuels the sins of anger, greed and pride. We want the same as, if not more than, those around us. We rush to say: It’s not fair!

Today we are challenged to recognize Jesus’ unwavering fairness and justice. Today we are challenged to engage with all that Jesus is really saying to us. Today we are challenged to set self to one side and to follow where Jesus leads … that is, into his glorious and just future … the place where all is fair!