Early on the Sabbath day, Judas, with pangs of conscience convicting him of selling the Son of God for a month’s wages, comes with his ‘blood money’ to return it, in some mistaken hope that he can fix his own guilt problem. Equally guilty ‘chief priests and elders’ reply with the most uncaring words found in scripture: “What is that to us?” (Mat. 27:4). In their minds, it wasn’t their responsibility. They didn’t care. It was Judas’ problem. In his own guilt and feeling their total apathy, Judas saw no way of ending his anguish that didn’t include a rope. We cannot deduce that apart from their thoughtless words that the betrayer would not have ended his own life. But that message, totally devoid of personal concern must have played a part in his decision. A few days later, we hear a similar phrase with only one small pronoun changed.
Let us now travel from the temple to the shores of Galilee. In the interim, Jesus has suffered, died, been raised and has repeatedly appeared to chosen witnesses. Most of the eleven remaining apostles have decided to go fishing. As was their custom, they were completely unsuccessful. Jesus directed them to a huge catch, but more importantly to amazing insight from a risen Lord. In that scene, Jesus calls Peter aside and asks him, “Do You love me?” Twice, Peter replies, “Yes, Lord, you know that I am your friend.” But the third time, Jesus asks, “Are you my friend?” and Peter was hurt, responding: “Lord, you know all things; you know that I am your friend.” (John 21:15-17)
That exchange was followed by a prediction that someday, Peter would be bound and led to where he did not want to go. We are not privy to the thoughts of this outspoken apostle, but seeing ‘the disciple Jesus loved’ asked, “What about him?” In response, Jesus transforms the careless message of the chief priests by changing one pronoun (Yes, I am aware that in the Greek the only necessary change was the ending of a word from first person plural to second person singular; but this blog is in English). Jesus, the epitome of compassion replies, “What is that to you?” (v.21) “You follow me!”
We need to remember our need to focus on our responsibilities, instead of on those of others. When we decide to judge others, on whose affairs, decisions and situation are we focusing? Jesus does not want Peter to center his attention on someone else’s story. Similarly, we would do well to resist our temptations to focus on how other people could do a better job of following Jesus. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my plate is overfilled with my own need to live more like the Savior I am striving to follow.
Because He lives,