Simon Peter said to him, Lord, where go you? Jesus answered him, Where I go, you can not follow me now…
The most natural explanation of Christ's words to one who knew Him as intimately as Peter did was that, while shrinking from no danger Himself, He would not involve His followers in that danger. But Christ's meaning was that the time had not come for Peter to die. Had Peter known this he would still have desired thus to follow Christ: but in reality he was not ready. Desiring to die and readiness for death are two different things.
I. THERE WAS A WORK YET TO BE DONE IN PETER.
1. His knowledge of Christ and of Divine things needed to be increased. He knew a great deal, being Divinely taught, but he had yet to learn that Christ must suffer and enter into His glory. Our Lord had indeed spoken of this, but nothing short of the event itself could teach the full truth. There was the teaching, too, supplied by the Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost. Compare what Peter knew in later years with what he knew now, and you see the reason for our Lord's words. Here, then, is one of the reasons why God keeps us here. We are to learn Christ as He can be learnt nowhere else, by experiencing His wonderful love and almighty grace. What will not men endure to become acquainted with man or nature? Shall we complain then because we are called for a season to endure hardships that we may know Christ.
2. His character needed chastening and strengthening. He was weaker morally than he thought himself. "I will lay down," etc. "Wilt thou?" etc. Life was a furnace by means of which the baser parts of his character were re moved, and the truer and nobler made manifest. Peter went to heaven a better man than he would have done had he followed Christ now. There is no explanation of human life satisfactory but this. Once accepted the axe is laid at the root of all impatience and disgust.
II. THERE WAS A WORK YET TO BE DONE BY PETER.
1. Indeed the work done in Peter was with a view to that to be done by him. To regard our knowledge and experience only as a fitting us for heaven is only selfishness. Christ taught that both were for the sake of others. They could only follow Him as they gave themselves for their fellow men, as He did. Doubtless Peter soon understood this, and acquiesced in the "afterwards."
2. Our work here is a preparation for the life hereafter. That will be no state of inactivity, and by serving Christ here in our inward and outward life we are to learn how to work for Him in heaven.
(H. S. Toms.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.