What Does John 13:36 Mean?

Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, where are You going?" Jesus answered, "Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later."

John 13:36(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

We all go through a difficult circumstance in life... but it is only as we look back on all that happened that we come to a fuller appreciation of its deeper significance, and receive greater understanding of all that God was doing in our life, at the time. This seems to be the case in Peter's life.. when Jesus started to speak to His disciples, with increasing urgency about His fast approaching departure.

From the point that Christ had been accused of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub, we feel the chill winds of change in His message and ministry. He was to complete His unique minister to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, for He must fulfil all that was written about the Messiah in Scripture... but He began to teach in parables, so the unbelieving masses would hear with their ears yet not understand in their heart.

He also began, in earnest, to prepare His few, faithful followers for His fast approaching death and resurrection, and for their forthcoming ministry as the foundational apostles and prophets of the Church. They were to lead the soon-to-be formed fledgling Body of believers who trusted Christ for their salvation. They were to lay the foundations of our faith in Scripture - through the gospels and epistles they were to pen.

Jesus had already been anointed for burial at Bethany and ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey - as Scripture foretold. Judas, the traitor, had conspired with leaders of the Jews to hand Him over to them - and Christ's warning of his arrest; His trial; His crucifixion and resurrection intensified with every passing hour. 

The 'hour had come' for the Son of Man to be glorified... and His sacrifice on the cross would honour the Father and bring His amazing plan of redemption to that climatic and pivotal point in history, when death would be swallowed up in victory. "Little children, I am with you a little while longer," was our Lord's grave message. "You will seek Me... and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.'

It is easy to prevaricate over an important issue, and push into the back of our minds some impending peril we would prefer to ignore. But the time had come when the tenor and tone of Christ's message had to be faced. And so "Simon Peter said to Him, 'Lord, where are You going?"

Jesus had many more things to say to His disciples, but knew they were unable to bear them at this time - so instead of telling them plainly that He was to die... He answered, "Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later." It was at this point that Simon Peter addressed the issue he has resisted for so long and said to Jesus, "Lord, where are You going?" Jesus answered, "Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later."

Simon did not understand Jesus was speaking about His death. He assumed He was going on a secret journey of which they know nothing and expected Him to return - and his interest was piqued. For three years they had given up everything to follow 'the Nazarene', and perhaps Peter considered he had a right to know!

But Jesus had to walk the way of humiliation and rejection. He had to bear the false accusation; evil plots; false testimonies and cruel death. Peter could not partake in Christ's sacrificial offering of Himself on the cross, for the sin of the world. Jesus had to face death alone.. but the day would come when Peter and all the apostles of Christ would follow in His footsteps - later.

They too would endure false accusations; evil plots; false testimonies and cruel deaths. First the cross and then the crown. Peter and all who believe on HIM will suffer persecution - but Christ won the victory at Calvary, and there is laid up for Peter and all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ a CROWN of life - which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.

Identification with Christ means suffering in this life and in the world to come - life everlasting.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for Jesus. Thank You that He was prepared to be the sacrifice for my sin, and for the sin of the whole world. Thank You that He endured the cross and all the suffering and pain that was inflicted on the sinless Son of God - the perfect Son of Man - the spotless Lamb of God. I pray that I may know HIM more and more... and that I would be ready and willing to fellowship in His suffering here on earth - during my sojourn in a world that despises His name and rejects Your offer of Salvation. I pray that many whose ears have been blocked and eyes blinded to the truth would be convicted of their sin and place their trust in Him - before it is too late. Use me in whatever capacity You choose and may I live, work and if necessary die for His dear name's sake. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN. 

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