Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:22

Peter had asked Jesus about John, saying, “What about him?” This verse is Jesus’ response. Interestingly in the following verse, John feels it necessary to go to great pains to make it clear that Jesus didn’t say he wouldn’t die.

It’s easy to get caught up with what Jesus is doing, or not doing, in someone else’s life and avoid what he wants to do in ours. Sometimes God asks people to go to places like bars and nightclubs that he specifically directs others to stay away from. Sometimes he prompts people to see movies that he directs others not to see.

The idea that God asks different things of different people is somewhat foreign to us. Perhaps it’s because as parents we have similar ideals for all of our children. We would like our children to be productively employed in a worthwhile pursuit. God also wants his children to be productively employed in a worthwhile pursuit. However, sometimes his definition of what is productive and worthwhile is vastly different from ours. We tend to look at success in worldly terms while God looks for success in spiritual terms.

Job achieved a great spiritual success when he endured great loss and hardship. Isaiah achieved spiritual success when he preached for 40 years to an unresponsive people. In the midst of their struggles, Job and Isaiah weren’t considered successful people.

These verses from John teach us that what God asks of us may be entirely different to what God asks of others. Our job is to follow his leading in our lives and not compare our responsibilities to those of others.