"When Peter saw him (John), he asked, 'Lord, what about him?' Jesus answered, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." John 21:21-22
Following Jesus is easy.................from a distance. Once Jesus gets all in your grill and starts asking YOU to follow Him, that is a completely different ball game. Following Jesus is easier at a distance, or in a crowd, because it doesn't call for us to lay down our agendas, ambitions, and, yes, even our lives. It's discipleship-lite.
What I am saying is that we want an easy way of following Jesus so we design our own plan. That plan looks something like this: We want a personal relationship with Jesus, but we only want to embrace a corporate followship. But with Jesus, it does not work that way.
Peter tested Him on it. He asked Jesus what was going to happen to John. I can hear him now, "Jesus, if I have to die for following you, then doesn't John? I mean, if you recall that time you were out on the water and called to us, I came walking out on the water. And where was John? Sitting in the boat. Remember the garden, when the soldiers came to take you away and I cut off Malchus' ear to help protect you? Where was John? Running away into the night. So surely if I have to die for you, he will too, won't he? What is going to happen to him?" Peter wanted to remove himself from the personal responsibility of following Jesus, at least in following Him alone.
Jesus deals with this question in as straight forward a manner as possible. He says, in my paraphrase, "Peter, it is none of your business what I do with John. I want you to follow Me regardless of what anyone else is doing." You see, if Jesus gives us the privilege of a personal relationship with Him, then attached to that is the responsibility of a personal followship as well. You can't get out of it. It's part of the deal.
There are going to be times in our lives that the road in following Jesus is crowded. Those are the fun times. Your friends are making choices to obey and follow Jesus in certain areas of their lives, and it feels as if you can travel in the journey together as followers. But there will be other times when the road seems to be empty. It's just you and Jesus. There are occasions where these times are not as easy or enjoyable. You will have to initiate the reconciliation of a relationship, even though you did nothing wrong. You will not be able to talk a certain way to people anymore, even though it seems as if everyone else can get by with it. You may be called on to sacrifice some material things for the sake of Jesus' cause while others are stockpiling. You may even be called upon to carry the gospel to places that nobody else will go.
Whether the road of obedience is crowded or empty, one thing remains sure: Jesus has given us the responsibility of personally following Him - trusting Him, regardless of what anyone else in the entire world is doing.