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A Different Sort Of Glory

John 21:18-19
Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, ‘Follow me!’ (NIVUK)

Peter had big ideas and bold ambitions.  He had promised never to leave Jesus, even if that meant going to prison and death with Him (Luke 22:33).  But Peter did not really want to go to prison or to die in order to glorify Jesus.  After the resurrection, Peter along with the other disciples hid themselves away in a locked room, fearing that the Jewish authorities would target them now that Jesus had been crucified (John 20:19).  So, it must have been a shock when the Lord Jesus told Peter that he would also be arrested and crucified.
Jesus knew Peter to be a self-motivated man.  He made plans and achieved whatever he wanted.  Although that habit was modified when Jesus was clearly in charge, it still remained in his character.  But Jesus had other plans.  Peter could not glorify God in his own way: and the path of glory for Peter would be like that of His Master – through the cross.  Of course, Peter’s eventual crucifixion would not save the world (only Jesus could do that).  But because it was the Lord’s choice, his willingness to accept suffering and shame for the name of Christ would bring glory to God, as the Apostle Paul did also (Colossians 1:24).
It is a mark of true discipleship to accept that God has the right to allow suffering to come to His people because it will glorify Him.  It may not be what we choose (in our flesh), but if we let the Lord choose our pathway then even the worst of pain will be sanctified.  We sometimes feel that it would be more bearable if we could understand the reason; but the only explanation is that the Lord has allowed it and therefore glory will come to Him as we accept it.  It is the way of Jesus who said, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

This is not our natural thinking.  That is why we need today’s passage … preparing us for the road ahead and giving the Lord room to lead where we might have no imagination or desire to go.  As we accept His way, He gets the glory, others get the blessing and we are filled with joy (James 1:2-7).  Peter obviously learned that lesson because he wrote 1 Peter 1:3-9.  Let us not be so much in control that we resist the Lord’s route to glorify Him.

Loving Heavenly Father. Thank You for always being in command, and that we can even use the worst of suffering to bring glory to Yourself and blessing to other people. Forgive me when I can only conceive of spiritual success through my own plans and when I refuse to think that You can use suffering to bring glory to You. Please help me to live each day cheerfully whatever the circumstances, even when suffering seems to block the route. May my attitude to adverse circumstances demonstrate how much I trust You and how well Your Holy Spirit sustains me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams