Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers 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?” John 21:23 (NIV)
It happens again. It is so easy to do. Jesus speaks, someone hears but the way they take it has nothing to do with why Jesus said it or where He wanted us to go with it. Peter hears Jesus mention some curious words about His plans and His purpose for the Disciple He loves. From there Jesus´ words are repeated but now everyone is taking those words to mean what they would with them. People speculate. People stretch their imaginations. But Jesus did mean for those words to be spoken. Every word from Christ can instruct us and bring us closer to God. But we can never disassociate Him from those words if we would know His true purpose for them. We need Him more than ever. He must be present. He must be in His sayings. He must be the reason. He must place the definition. It can never be left for us to misconstrue with our speculation no matter how intelligent or well educated. But how and why is it that we always do this? Why is there so much confusion over what Jesus says? How can we all take His words and come up with our ulterior conclusions? How can we keep from turning what Jesus says into our rumors?
To find an answer to our questions an army of over-intelligent and extremely versed men would be ready to set us straight. Experts are everywhere. But which one should we listen to? Or would their conclusions be only rumors too? Would we need to take our questions back to the source? If we want to find the real direction and real purpose, would we need to go straight to the One Who gives them to us? Would Jesus be the right place to set all our understanding straight? Or have we left Jesus locked away in a tomb somewhere or hanging dead upon His cross? Should we think that He would help us with what He says? Could He still be the one to walk us through His own teachings? Could letting the words of Jesus bring us close to Him be part of His reason for giving us those words in the first place?
Peter sees another Disciple and hears Jesus speak. He thinks that Jesus is going somewhere with those words. He is! But Jesus uses His words to help Peter focus on his own relationship with the Lord. Jesus always does this with His teachings. He does this with each of us. We may hear of someone else, but the words serve us little if they do not place us in closer relation to God. Jesus would not share those words with us if there was not ground for us to gain. Jesus is never frivolous with words. Our obligation is not to our brother. We all must first come to the Lord. Then only in His Presence is He free to use us as He wills. Is this what Jesus means when He says, “What is it to you?” Who will we go to today to find out the truth? Can we think of another expert? Or will we resist our tendency to rumors and go to the Lord?
We know we are amazingly good at coming up with a million different angles for the word You have for us. But let us set down our tendencies and simply come to You. You can speak to us now! You can tell us what You would have for us today! Even if what You have to tell us includes another person or many people, please do not let us lose this chance to bring ourselves closer to You! Never let us miss one opportunity to gain something more of You or to bring You more into the focus of our lives! Help us past the rumors and right into Your Presence now we pray!