While Someone Else Dresses You

2022.02.04

I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old, you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”

John 21:18 The Message

I recall how much fun it was to play “Follow the Leader” as a child. It’s creative fun and often ends in belly laughs when I play with my youngest granddaughters. What makes it fun is that everyone gets to take turns being the leader, being the one who sets the pace, establishes the motions, and is in charge, at least for a turn.

But when you don’t have a choice in the matter, it is no laughing matter. Not long after the resurrection, Jesus had a breakfast encounter with a few of his disciples. Peter was present, and following his triple denial of Jesus, he and Jesus had some talking to do. Long before the denial, Jesus had declared to Peter, “You are Peter (which means rock), and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades (or hell) will not prevail upon it.” (Matthew 16:18).  He was the leader that others would follow.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this passage as I watch my oldest sister, Carol, who was always a leader, now being dressed by others, and led about, not where she might wish to go, but where others choose. It’s been hard for her. She’d told me on more than one occasion, “you are not the boss of me.” It’s hard for me to see, and hard to acknowledge that what is happening to her is also something I and my loved ones may experience, if we are so lucky as to live to a ripe old age.

Jesus pleaded to escape death on the cross before finally yielding to and following God. In the quote from John 21, we are told rather parenthetically that Jesus was hinting at the kind of death Peter would have, which is supported by church history. Jesus strong words to Peter, “Follow me.”

I’ve always heard those words as hard, but perhaps there is more than a little grace amidst hard realities. Follow me reminds me of the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep by name. It reminds me of the shepherd who leads the sheep to green pastures, beside still waters, and even in the valley of darkest shadows, is with the sheep. So, this day, I make the choice to follow the leader, Jesus.

Following Jesus ~ Anne

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