The Power to Follow

Peter said to Him,
“Lord, why can I not follow You now?”

John 13:37

There are times when you cannot understand why you cannot do what you want to do, especially when you are told you cannot do it. At times, our impatience gives in to impulse and presumption, and that is when we appear to be running ahead of God rather than with God. Peter is such an example.

Peter was not willing to wait for God. He predicted in his own mind where and what he would do. Regardless of where the test came from, he knew he could overcome, even if it meant, “I will lay down my life for Your sake.” Undoubtedly, Peter was honest but ignorant. “Jesus answered him, ‘...The rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times” (John 13:38). Jesus said this with a deeper knowledge of Peter than Peter had of himself.

Peter could not wait until later to follow Jesus. It was “now or never,” but Jesus told Peter, “...You cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward” (John 13:36). After Jesus’ resurrection, He approached Peter with two powerful words: “Follow Me” (John 21:19). About three years earlier, Jesus had said, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19), and Peter followed with no hesitation. Peter did not need a powerful jolt from the Holy Spirit to cause him to follow Jesus. He did it of his own free will. Later he came to the place where his heart faltered and he denied Jesus. After the resurrection, no one is in front of Peter except the Lord Jesus Christ. The first, “Follow Me” was nothing mysterious. It was an external following. Jesus was asking for an internal sacrifice and yielding (John 21:18).

After Peter’s denial of the Lord with oaths and curses (Matthew 26:67-75), he comes to a complete end of himself and all of his self-sufficiency. There was not part of himself he would ever rely on again. In his state of need, sorrow, and guilt, he was finally ready to receive all that the risen Lord had for him. “...He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (John 20:22). Peter was then prepared to teach, heal, lead, help, love, and die for the the Lord.

All the promises and vows we make may end in denial, because we have no power to accomplish them. When we come to the end of ourselves (Matthew 16:24), in need, in sorrow, and at our rock bottom, we are able to “receive the Holy Spirit.” To let the Holy Spirit guide you is to allow an invasion into your life - totally. At that point, there will be only One who directs the course of your life - the Lord Jesus Christ.