20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ 21When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about him?’ 22Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’ 23So the rumour spread in the community* that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’*
24 This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. 25But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
Jesus had pulled Peter aside for this conversation, but now he sees another coming to join them, or following them. It is already a strange conversation, although an important one. Now Peter asks, “What about him?” What is he asking? Will this one also die a martyr’s death? Will he also follow Jesus? What will happen to him? And Jesus’ essentially says, “That’s none of your business; I called you to follow me. What I say to him is not your business.” But what he actually says is, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” And from those words there begins a rumor that the Disciple whom Jesus loved will not die. Perhaps the author added this post-script not only to tell of Peter’s reinstatement, but also to clarify that Jesus did not say that John would never die.
And so, the gospel of John ends. Adam Hamilton, in his book, “Making Sense of the Bible” calls it the perplexing, puzzling, and profound John. While other gospels tell the story of Jesus’ life, John’s focus is on the spiritual significance of Jesus’ life. “In John”, he says, “nearly every seemingly extraneous detail is a hint meant to point to the identity and significance of Jesus.” Haven’t we seen that to be true? Over all these weeks – we have seen that everything had meaning, usually multiple layers of meaning! John is primarily interested in relationship – relationship of those in his community, and of those who read his gospel, to Christ, and through him, to God. It is John who gives us the power of the call to be born anew, to accept the power of the Spirit in our lives.
By the way, this “folder” has run to 119 pages, so together, we have pretty much written a book about the Gospel of John. I don’t know about you, but I have gained a new understanding and a new respect for this gospel.