Peter's Curiosity and Presumption
John 13:36-38
Simon Peter said to him, Lord, where go you? Jesus answered him, Where I go, you can not follow me now…

I. His CURIOSITY. The question was occasioned by ver. 33; and as soon as our Saviour paused, Peter suddenly makes the inquiry.

1. Here is something which we know not how entirely to censure. The imperfections of good men betray their excellences. We see Peter's love to his Lord, and concern for His presence. When Elijah was going to be taken up, Elisha followed him. When Jonathan and David were about to separate, they fell upon each other's neck and wept. When, at Miletus, "Paul kneeled down and prayed with the brethren, they all wept sore." But think of Christ! What a Benefactor, what a Master was He! Could Peter then view His removal with indifference?

2. But if our Saviour blames Peter, Peter was blameworthy. He was a little too curious — a fault by no means uncommon. For how many are more anxious to know secret things than to improve the things revealed. We are all fender of speculation than practice. Whereas, we ought to remember, that, in a state where we have so much to do, and so little time to do it in, we should secure ourselves from all superfluous engagements.

3. Our Saviour, therefore, never encouraged this principle. When a man asked Him, "Lord, are there few that shall be saved?" He did not even notice the trifler: He said unto them, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." So here He shows His judgment of the inquiry by eluding it. But though He does not gratify, He instructs. In two senses, Peter was to follow Him, in due time —

(1) To glory. It was what our Lord prayed for, and what He promised (John 17:24). So we are to be forever with the Lord. He has gone to prepare a place for us. But for every thing there is a season. He could not follow Him now. Though our Saviour's hour was come, Peter's was not; though the Master had finished the work given Him to do, the servant had scarcely begun his — and "we are all immortal till our work is done." Christians are sometimes impatient, but this is wrong. "The best frame we can be in is to be ready to go, and willing to stay." The eagerness is not only wrong, but useless. What would it avail the husbandman to fret? Would this bring harvest the sooner? He cannot reap in May, the order of nature forbids it. There is also an order in grace. Why cannot you follow Him now? You have an aged mother to support, or an infant charge to rear, or an institution of charity to found, or to exemplify religion in your practice, or to recommend it by your sufferings.

(2) To the cross. But he could not follow Him now, because he had not sufficient faith and resolution to suffer. This shows us that our Lord's dealings with His people are founded not only in kindness, but in wisdom and prudence. He adapts the burden to the shoulder, or fits the shoulder to the burden. "As thy day, so shall thy strength be." Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof — and what is better, sufficient for it too will be the grace.

II. HIS PRESUMPTION (vers. 37, 38). Ah, Peter, this is sooner said than done. Life is not so easily parted with. You trembled upon the water; be not so confident now. Note —

1. The crime was heinous. To deny his Master was unfaithfulness: his Friend, perfidy: his Benefactor, ingratitude: his Redeemer, impiety. This, too, was the conduct of one who had been called from a low condition in life to the high honour of apostleship — of one who had seen His miracles, etc. Three aggravations are here mentioned.

(1) He was warned — he could not plead ignorance.

(2) The sin was immediately committed. Things soon wear off from the mind; but here was no time for forgetfulness.

(3) It was repeated, "thrice." A man may be surprised and overtaken in a fault; but, the moment after, reflection may return; and he may flee. But Peter, after his first offence, renews it again — and again — and each time waxes worse and worse.

2. The lessons:

1. The foreknowledge of our Saviour.

2. What reason have we to exclaim, with David, "Lord, what is man!" Survey him under the greatest advantages and obligations. There is nothing too vile for us to fall into, if we are left of Him who alone can keep us from failing.

3. How little we are acquainted with ourselves. Peter spoke according to his feelings. But sincerity is not constancy. There is a goodness, compared to the morning cloud and early dew, that soon passeth away. Peter did not consider the difference between an impulse and a principle; between an hour of ease and a moment of trial. Hazael's case is a strong one; but it will apply, in various degrees, to ourselves. God only knows how much of our innocency has been owing to principle, or the absence of temptation; or what we should have been in conditions the reverse of those which have sheltered our weakness.

4. The most confident are the most exposed; and the most humble the most safe. "When I am weak, then I am most strong." "Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe." Conclusion: We do not wonder at this sad revolution in Peter. He is proud and self-sufficient. "Pride goes before destruction," etc. I never saw a professor of religion full of confidence in himself, and speaking censoriously of others, but who fell into some gross crime, or into some great calamity.

(W. Jay.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.

WEB: Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered, "Where I am going, you can't follow now, but you will follow afterwards."

Not Now, But Afterwards
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