Speech and Action
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…

1. Peter meant what he said, but he did not measure the meaning of his words. Sometimes our words are bigger than we are, and all exaggeration is weakness. Peter spoke out of his passion, not out of his reason, and the only passion that endures is reason-on-fire. If he had said less, he would have done more. The strongest man has only so much energy, and if that be spent in wild speech, it will not be spent in well-directed actions. Hear a man talk much about the poor, and the probability is he is not going to do much for the poor. How to spend our limited amount of energy to the greatest effect ought to be the inquiry of every earnest man. We want more Bible reading, deeper devotion — the strengthening of our inner life — and then the expenditure will be with ease, and be a great beneficence.

2. Thunder frightens people; the light is welcome to all, and how quietly it comes. "Let your light so shine," etc. I quote this passage because there is a danger lest this doctrine of action, as opposed to speech, should be perverted. Persons excuse themselves from saying anything about their religion, and say that they seek the shade. Don't believe them. The shade is never difficult to find. To talk about humility is not to practice it. Action and speech must go together. Love the shade, certainly; but remember that God made the light, and that everything does not grow in the shade, and don't undervalue the light. Are you sure that you are honest in professing to love the shade? Is it not when someone asks you to do something that you don't like that you become so modest? Christ wants speech and action, open conduct, that everybody, if needful, can see and estimate. There are times when the shadow will be right welcome; but let the light make the shade.

3. Peter's boast is one of the expressions which outdo themselves by their own bigness. Beware of outdoing yourself by your own words. There are men whose geese are all swans, and their swans eagles. Christ demands that our words be weighed and directed to His Cross and service. He asks no man to lay down his life, in this tragical sense, on a manufactured occasion — that will come by and by as a practical necessity. There are many who are ready to do some tremendous thing for us when we don't want anything tremendous done. A dying master told his old slave that he had arranged in his will that he (the slave) was to be buried in the family grave: to which he made reply, "Ten dollars would suit Cato better." We cannot live on tragedies — give us bread and water. "My mother, sir!" says the wild youth, "I would walk fifty miles on burning metal for her!" But his mother wants no filial piety so tragical as that; but she would like him home a little earlier at night. Don't say that you would lay down your life for her — lay down your glass, your pipe, your cards; lay down something as an instalment. "My pastor! sir, I would die for him!" No, no; he wants nothing so tragic, all he wants is for you to take a sitting, come in time, and pay your subscription occasionally.

4. Peter's boast was a broken sentence. Christ only could complete it, and did. "I have power to take it again." To serve friends after death, as well as in it, was reserved for Him alone. Therefore economize life. You can serve others better by living than by dying — even Christ. "I beseech you therefore...present your bodies a living sacrifice." And if we live for Christ we shall certainly die for Him.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

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."

Readiness for Death
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