John 21:1–21 describes an encounter that seven of the disciples had with Jesus. It was His third appearance after His resurrection and the disciples were still unsure as to what to expect.
After a miraculous catch of fish and a tense breakfast cooked by the Lord Himself, Peter’s relationship with the Lord was restored. He was commissioned to lead the Church as he declared his undying love and responded to Jesus’ call to “feed my lambs”, “tend my sheep” and “feed my sheep”. When Jesus alluded to how his days would end, Peter understood even more clearly who Jesus is and what the words “follow me” would entail.
Even as Peter got up to follow Jesus, wondering what the future held, he turned round to look at the others. When he saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was trailing behind, he asked, “Lord, and what about him?”
By this, Peter was saying, “Lord, we are together”. When you are together, you look out for each other. Though one was moving ahead, and the other was trailing, both are connected. Earlier that morning, when Peter first realised that Jesus was at the shore, he had jumped into the water and swam ahead, leaving the rest behind in the boat (John 21:7). But having a clearer understanding now, he felt compelled to look back, as if to assure himself of how the rest were doing.
How do we look back and look out for others? In his sermon during the launch of the MCS 135 celebrations, Bishop Dr Chong reminded all Methodists of the great and first commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. […] And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt 22:36–39). He said that it was tough for Christians to pursue a life of inward and outward holiness on their own. How great it is to have someone turn around to look out for us and say to the Lord, “And what about him?”
Who are our neighbours? Whom will I be a neighbour to?
There are some situations in which Methodists are saying, “Lord and what about him/them?” during this COVID-19 pandemic. Even if it’s a little inconvenient, let’s go get our temperature taken and wear the sticker to set a good example and reassure others. Or, I am giving the worship service a miss today because I am not feeling so well. It might require some extra effort to disinfect the hall after every worship service, but others will surely appreciate that the church is clean and sanitised. We are going to order some masks—do you need some too? Our church has tested out a system for decentralising worship and keep cell groups going and growing—we can show you how. We are opening our decentralised worship to any Methodist living nearby, regardless of church or conference from which they are.
Who are those outside the realm of your usual consideration? Will you turn back and see who may be behind, even as you are planning for yourself and your own, and ask, “Lord, and what about them?” Our God is a mighty infinite God—His grace is sufficient for all of us.
By the Structural Review Task Force