‘What is that to you?’

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them… When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:20-22)

There is a popular argument for not believing that Jesus is the only way to heaven. How could Jesus be the only way to heaven when not everyone on the planet has even heard about Jesus? Would a just and loving God condemn people to hell for the crime of growing up where they never heard about Jesus?

There is more than one approach to this question, but one of the most important is that introduced by the example of Jesus and Peter in the dialogue above. Peter is wondering how John was going to die, and Jesus says, “What is that to you? You must follow me.”

What about the guy in another culture who never hears about Jesus? The answer is the same: “What is that to you? You must follow me.”

One has to already know a good deal about Jesus to even be asking this question, and to use it as an excuse not to believe is not even good logic. That’s saying you are not going to be accountable to what you know about Jesus, or could find out if you tried, because there is a guy somewhere in the world who in your estimation can’t find out.

When Jesus said: “You follow me,” He was saying: “You follow what you know of me — what has been revealed to you. You are not responsible for what has or has not been revealed to someone else; that is between my Father and that person.”

This also applies to our experience in life. When you want to compare your life to someone else’s — someone else has had it easier than you — guess what Jesus says. “What is that to you? You must follow me.”

Besides, I am of the impression from walking with Jesus that hell is more likely to be peopled with the self-righteous who had tons of chances to respond to God’s grace than with unlucky sinners who just happened to miss the “Jesus Saves” sign.

Don’t measure your lot in life by anyone else’s. You only have your own.

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6 Responses to ‘What is that to you?’

  1. Andrew P. says:

    Superb post, John! The objection is truly a red herring, but one that seems to easily sidetrack us. Thanks for the clarity.

  2. Carole Oglesbee says:

    About a million years ago, I had a tee-shirt that said “Kill ’em all – Let God sort ’em out.” (I thought it would be the perfect thing to wear if I were ever called for Jury Duty).

    I think the message to us in scripture is “LOVE ’em all – Let God sort ’em out.”

  3. Mark S. says:

    Pastor John, LOVED today’s Catch w/ the verses talked about! When I first learned of them in St. John it soooooooo much reminded me of MYOB, or Mind Your Own Business!

    PS Ohhhhhh Carole, or Miss North Carolina your old tee–shirt cracked me up! LOL 🙂

  4. Tim Boden says:

    John–I’ve come to the conclusion that (short of “Jesus is the Christ…”) the greatest confession in Scripture is the “theme song” of Israel: Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love/mercy endures uninterrupted. No wonder this song threw the Moabite and Ammonites into self-destructive confusion–it’s at the center between God and Satan. Satan’s first encounter with Eve called into question God’s goodness. So often, we hear doubters say, “If there’s a God, how could He allow…fill in the blank with any horror you choose.” Same thing applies here. Every day we are asked again, “Is God good, or isn’t He?” “Is He merciful?” When He doesn’t grant our request–even our most “noble” one, we doubt His mercy. If His mercy is “uninterrupted,” then by faith I must draw the conclusion that His “no” answer is more merciful than any “yes” He might provide.

    Oh yeah, and thanks for a most excellent “Catch” today!!


  5. Karyn says:

    We just finished Sean McDowell’s Godquest series and covered this exact topic on the last week called “The Path”. The thing that struck me was when he said – “Jesus is THE way – because before Him, there was NO way.” Looking at it that way – actually makes it all-inclusive and not nearly as exclusive as the skeptics/cynics want to make it seem.

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