Have you ever heard the expression “you have just one job”? This expression is a response that echoes frustration, anger or mockery towards something or someone who fails to complete the specific task for which it was designed or assigned to accomplish. For example, that expression might sound like this in a typical work environment. “How could you fail to properly record these numbers, you are an accountant and you have just one job!”

In one sense as believers, we “have just one job” to maintain a right relationship with Jesus and to follow Him. Yet it is all too easy to insert our involvement, opinions or assessments in situations that are not our direct responsibility.

In John 21, we see the impulsive Peter doing just that. Peter has just been restored to leadership after denying Jesus three times. Jesus challenged Peter by asking him the same question three times.

Question 1: Jesus – “Do you love me more that these?”

Peter – “Yes Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus – “Then feed my lambs.”

Question 2: Jesus – “Do you love me?”

Peter – “Yes Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus – “Then take care of my sheep.”

Question 3: Jesus – “Do you love me?”

Peter – “Yes Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus – “Then feed my sheep.”

Jesus concluded the restoration of Peter in verse 19 by saying this, Follow me.” Peter then turned around and saw John, “the disciple Jesus loved” following behind them. For whatever reason, Peter’s attention was directed toward John. Peter took it upon himself to ask Jesus about John’s future.

Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
John 21:20-21

We are not completely sure what prompted this question from Peter. Peter may have been genuinely concerned for John, but Jesus’ response seems to indicate another motivation.

Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
John 21:22-23

Did Peter feel that John was intruding? Was Peter’s curiosity about John’s future driven by envy or jealousy?

Suddenly Jesus’ concluding words to Peter after Peter’s restoration take on a greater significance. Jesus said, “follow me.” At that point, Peter turns around and “saw the disciple Jesus loved (John) following them.”

Throughout the Gospels, John is portrayed as an example of faithfulness and commitment. As Jesus tells Peter, “follow me,” Peter turns and sees John doing the very thing Jesus told Peter to do, “follow me.”

John is already doing the very thing he instructs Peter to do. John is once again modeling what it means to follow Jesus physically and spiritually. It seems to me that Peter is not necessarily “encouraged” by this fact and Peter was not primarily concerned about John’s well-being. The tone of this narrative suggests that Peter’s curiosity may have been driven by a spirit of jealousy, which was manifested in comparison. Why else would Jesus say, “Bro, if I want John to live until I come back then that’s exactly what I will do. Why are you so concerned about John’s situation? His situation and his future have nothing to do with you. It’s not your job to worry about John or how I will use him for my glory. You have only one job – follow me. Concentrate on that and you will be just fine.” (my paraphrase)

Too many times I have emulated Peter in this story. I have found myself focusing too much attention toward someone else and their situation due to resentment, jealously, envy or frustration over what I perceive to be a lack of justice or fairness. In those moments, we can unconsciously fall victim to the trap of comparison which leads only to self-destructive thoughts and actions.

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.
Galatians 6:4 (NLT)

Let’s not let our attention stray toward what we think God should do or what we think someone else should or should not do. Jesus says to each of us, “You have one job – follow me.” Let’s direct all our attention, emotion and energy toward the one job we each have – to follow Him and God will take care of everything else.