You Can’t Follow Jesus

Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me?
John 13:36-38

The propelling force behind Peter’s denial wasn’t his lack of faith. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have made the claims he did. It was his overestimation of his faith. He believed he was ready to die for Jesus. But he wasn’t, and Jesus knew it.

So Jesus said the unthinkable: you can’t follow me.

That doesn’t sound like Jesus. After all, this is the Jesus who had told Peter to leave his family, profession, and home to follow Him. Now Jesus is telling Peter he can’t follow Him. Sounds schizophrenic.

But it wasn’t. Jesus knew exactly what He was doing because He knew the exact measure of Peter’s faith.

Peter had initially followed Jesus.
Peter had followed Him on the water.
But he wasn’t ready to follow Jesus to the cross.

Peter wasn’t ready to follow Jesus everywhere. Not at that moment.
You’re not ready to follow Jesus everywhere either. Not at this moment.

And here’s the truth: Jesus isn’t expecting you to. While we definitely often overestimate our own faith, I think we underestimate the grace and patience of Jesus for our lack of faith even more. Jesus expects you to exercise the faith that you have, not the faith that you still have to develop.

There are places in your life where your faith is still lacking. There are moments where you still struggle. The question for you in those places and in those moments is the same as it was for Peter: will you really lay down your life for Jesus?

And the answer is no.
But that is why He laid down His life for you.

That’s what He was leaving to do when He told Peter he couldn’t follow Him.
And that’s what He’s done for you when you can’t follow Him.

Practice the measure of faith that you have. Follow Jesus where you can.
But know that His grace covers you when you can’t and He is patient with you while you are developing the faith to follow Him where you can’t go right now.  

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Steven Furtick
Steven Furtick is the founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church, based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Elevation Church meets at eight locations in the Charlotte area, as well as one location in Toronto, Canada. The church has been named one of the Fastest-Growing Churches in America by Outreach Magazine for each of the past six years.