What Does John 13:37 Mean?

Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You."

John 13:37(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

The apostle Peter holds a special place in many hearts. It was to him that Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom, when he was instructed, three times, to 'feed My sheep. Peter was the one who unlocked the gate of the kingdom - first to Jews at Pentecost and later, to the Gentiles... in the house of Cornelius, the Roman centurion.

Peter was the big fisherman who showed great affection for his Lord and Master and he was the one who often blurted out what the others were thinking. He was the one who walked on water and sank down into the angry waves when his faith failed... and Peter was first to confess:- "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

He witnessed Christ's transfiguration on the holy mount and ran to the empty tomb, when he heard the wonderful news - "He is risen from the dead". He was excited to discover that he would sit on a throne in Christ's kingdom and judge the 12 tribes of Israel... and Peter was the one who declared his love for Jesus was immovable and unshakable - yet immediately denied Him three, terrible times.

It was only hours away from His crucifixion when Jesus told them He was to soon to go away and they could not follow Him... instead they would be universally hated; hunted down and killed for their faith. In the midst of receiving all this bewildering information Peter asks a question that was in the mind of all the disciples, "Lord, why can I not follow You right now?'... but then boldly declared - "I will lay down my life for You." 

Jesus had just delivered the most amazing discourse. They were to love one another with the same, supernatural love He loved all of them. He said the Holy Spirit would come and live in them and teach them many things, and that they were to 'abide' in Christ and He in them. They had all anticipated Him setting up His kingdom immediately, and were overwhelmed and perplexed to hear these shocking details. Acting in his usual capacity as spokesman Peter blurted out: "Lord, why can I not follow You right now? - I am ready to lay down my life for You."

Peter's declaration may have been full of zeal and bravado. He may have imagined he was courageous enough to suffer martyrdom for Christ... but he had not yet been given the permanently, indwelling Holy Spirit. He had not yet experienced the sufficient strength that only comes through the indwelling Spirit of God. Peter had not yet understood that the self-sufficiency of the old sin nature is incapable of doing good. 

When Adam sinned, man received a twisted and contorted sin nature that gave him knowledge of what was good - without the capacity to do good, and also knowledge of what was evil without the capacity to avoid it.

But at Pentecost, Peter and all who were waiting for the promised gift from God, received power from on high when the Spirit of God came to dwell within his mortal body... and like all who trust in JESUS, Peter found that His grace is sufficient, for His power is perfected in our weakness.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the life, the ministry and the example and Peter - the apostle who holds such a special place in the hearts of all who have trusted Christ for the forgiveness of sin and life everlasting. Thank You that although our faith may falter and we let you down by relying on our own abilities, instead of trusting in Your sufficient strength, You are always faithful to forgive our foolishness and return us into fellowship with Yourself, when we confess our faults. I pray that my zeal and love for the Lord Jesus would continue to develop and grow, so I would be bold in my faith and that in the power of Your Holy Spirit I have the sufficient strength to overcome every difficulty in life. Thank You ... and it is in Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.

Choose a Verse from John 13