By Em Sumaway
Some people aren’t very interested in following Jesus. They think it will be too difficult or too oppressive, or that they will have to give up too much. They don’t realize that it is when we willingly submit to Jesus as Lord that we gain everything of true value. We may lose the world but we gain our own soul. Not everyone has the courage to follow Jesus fully. Those who do make the commitment find themselves on fire with a passionate love for Jesus.
After talking about Peter’s love and ministry, Jesus told him about the manner of death that he would go through. This probably shocked Peter. Here he was, enjoying his restored apostleship and then, out of the blue, the Lord brings up his martyrdom.
The first time Jesus mentioned about His own death, Peter had opposed it (Matt. 16). In the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter had a sword and even used it to defend the Lord from the Roman soldiers, cutting off the right ear of Malchus. He even boasted that he would die for the Lord Jesus! But when the pressure came, he failed miserably.
Tradition tells us that Peter was indeed crucified, but that he asked to be crucified upside down, because he was not worthy to die exactly as his Master had died. If this is true, this is another evidence of the remarkable maturity that took place in Peter’s life. Aside from being able to give to the Lord the kind of love that He deserves, he also dedicated himself fully to the Lord even up to the point of death. And this is no ordinary kind of death. This is the most humiliating manner of death that a person can experience during those times. But in this crucifixion, glory blends with shame because in Peter’s life, and even in his death, he glorified the Lord.
Peter knew beforehand that he will experience a very painful and shameful kind of death. But he still continued to follow and serve the Lord. In Philippians 1:20-21, Paul’s great concern is to glorify God “whether by life or by death.” This should be our desire as well.