Today’s Reading: John 14
I remember listening to one of my daughters as she was learning to count. When she got to the number eleven, what came next seemed normal to her. Unfortunately, it was wrong: eleventeen, twelveteen, thirteen . . . Why not? Seems logical.
In today’s reading, we see that Jesus had one of those logical moments. It happens in yesterday’s reading: John 13:38. Jesus’ eleventeen moment follows verse 38. It isn’t supposed to, but it does: one comes after thirty-eight.
John 14:1-6 is a popular passage for funerals. In fact, I have read it many times at funerals:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:1-6)
As heavenly as these words are, they were not given for a funeral, they were given to help an arrogant and self-assured disciple named Peter, who was very much alive.
Always remember that the chapter and verse numbers in the Bible were never there when written. They were not added into a printed Bible until around the 1500s by Robert Stephens in the Geneva Bible. That’s why I am not a fan when people try to take the verse number or chapter number and make it part of the message of the text. It just is not there. So if that’s true, Jesus was right, verse 1 comes after verse 38 since there are no chapter divisions.
When Jesus spoke these words in John 14, it was in response to and directly after these final words in John 13: “Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny me three times” (verse 38).
Here is what I love: instead of Jesus leaving it there and letting Peter know that he was about to blow it big time, Jesus gives hope.
Peter says, “I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus says, “You will deny Me three times.”
We all know who’s telling the truth.
The iconic Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937 and was, at the time, the longest suspension bridge ever built. It was also very deadly work. “At the time, the industry standard was that for every million dollars spent, there would be a loss of life,” says the bridge’s spokeswoman, Mary Currie. The bridge’s estimated cost? Thirty-five million dollars. But the structural engineer, Joseph Strauss, concerned for the workers’ safety—as almost two dozen men died in the first half of construction—insisted on placing a safety net under the bridge to catch any workers who accidentally fell. It was a novel idea at the time and cost $130,000. After the net was put in place, no one else died. The safety net made the difference.
In John 14, we see that Peter is about to get his $130,000 safety net when he falls. Jesus essentially tells Peter, “What you say will not happen; what I say will . . . but there is more.” Here’s the safety net: You won’t lose when you fall, you win when you fail. Peter, you will deny Me and not keep your word, but I will keep My word.
What is that word? “I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
This is not heaven, this is restoration. The prepared place was not in the clouds but on a beach in John 21. Jesus was telling Peter that when he walks away from Jesus, he will still have a place. Jesus will receive him and they will be together.
God knows every failure and fall . . . and He has a net. Peter was falling into grace.
Charles Spurgeon said this about God’s grace: “Grace puts its hand on the boasting mouth, and shuts it once for all.”
No more boasting Peter. I think if Peter was counting, he too would say one comes after thirty-eight. The same is true for us, and I am so glad.