John 13:36
Simon Peter said to him, Lord, where go you? Jesus answered him, Where I go, you can not follow me now; but you shall follow me afterwards.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(36) Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou?—Comp. John 13:33. The earnest, loving nature of the Apostle dwells upon the words which tell of the Master’s departure. He is prepared to follow Him to danger, or even to death, and, that he may do so, asks whither it is that He is going.

Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now.—Our Lord does not give the answer which St. Peter had sought, but repeats the statement of John 13:33. For St. Peter, as for the others, the place must be prepared and the way opened before they could follow (John 14:2). For him, as for his Master, the day’s work was to be done before the night would come, and it was not done yet. But that night would come, and he would hereafter follow his Master in a more literal sense than any of which he thought. (See Notes on John 21:18-19.)

John 13:36-38. Simon Peter saith, Lord, whither goest thou, &c. — The exalted virtue which our Lord had just inculcated, did not make so strong an impression on Peter’s mind, as the words which he had before spoken, concerning his going away to a place where his disciples could not come. He therefore replies by thus asking whither he was going. He seems to have supposed that Christ, in consequence of being rejected by the Jews, was about to go to some other part of the earth to erect his throne, where he might reign without disturbance, according to the gross notion which he had of Christ’s kingdom. Jesus answered, Whither I go thou canst not follow me now, &c. — Thou art too weak at present to follow me in my sufferings: but thou shalt be enabled to do it afterward. From this clause “we gather that the declaration, (John 13:33,) Whither I go ye cannot come, is one of those general propositions whereof there are many in Scripture, which were spoken with a limitation not expressed. Here we are directed to add the limitation, thus, Whither I go ye cannot come NOW. For they were all, equally with Peter, to follow Jesus afterward, by suffering a violent death.” — Macknight. Peter said, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? — He was very unwilling to believe that he was so weak as Christ’s words intimated he was. He thought he was prepared to do or suffer any thing for his dear Master; adding, I will lay down my life for thy sake — As if he had said, Is there any road more terrible than the dark valley of the shadow of death? Yet through these black and gloomy shades I am willing to accompany thee this moment. Jesus answered, Wilt thou lay down thy life, &c. — Alas! Peter, thy promises are too large, and uttered with too much confidence to be relied on: thou dost not consider with what reluctance life is parted with, and what a hard task it is to suffer death. Verily, the cock shall not crow, &c. — Notwithstanding thy pretended affection and fortitude, a few hours shall not pass till, in great consternation at the danger with which I and my disciples will be threatened, thou shalt basely deny three several times that thou art my disciple. Peter, therefore, had no reason to be elated, though on a former occasion he had confessed Jesus to be the Son of God. And his behaviour, in this instance, affords a very affecting example of human vanity, in the midst of the greatest weakness. 13:36-38 What Christ had said concerning brotherly love, Peter overlooked, but spoke of that about which Christ kept them ignorant. It is common to be more eager to know about secret things, which belong to God only, than about things revealed, which belong to us and our children; to be more desirous to have our curiosity gratified, than our consciences directed; to know what is done in heaven, than what we may do to get thither. How soon discourse as to what is plain and edifying is dropped, while a doubtful dispute runs on into endless strife of words! We are apt to take it amiss to be told we cannot do this and the other, whereas, without Christ we can do nothing. Christ knows us better than we know ourselves, and has many ways of discovering those to themselves, whom he loves, and he will hide pride from them. May we endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, to love one another with a pure heart fervently, and to walk humbly with our God.By this shall all men ... - That is, your love for each other shall be so decisive evidence that you are like the Saviour, that all people shall see and know it. It shall be the thing by which you shall be known among all men. You shall not be known by special rites or habits; not by a special form of dress or manner of speech; not by special austerities and unusual customs, like the Pharisees, the Essenes, or the scribes, but by deep, genuine, and tender affection. And it is well known it was this which eminently distinguished the first Christians, and was the subject of remark by the surrounding pagans. "See," said the pagan, "see how they love one another! They are ready to lay down their lives for each other." Alas! how changed is the spirit of the Christian world since then! Perhaps, of all the commands of Jesus, the observance of this is that which is least apparent to a surrounding world. It is not so much that they are divided into different sects, for this may be consistent with love for each other; but it is the want of deep-felt, genuine love toward Christians even of our own denomination; the absence of genuine self-denial; the pride of rank and wealth; and the fact that professed Christians are often known by anything else rather than by true attachment to those who bear the same Christian name and image. The true Christian loves religion wherever it is found equally in a prince or in a slave, in the mansion of wealth or in the cottage of poverty, on the throne or in the hut of want. He overlooks the distinction of sect, of color, and of nations; and wherever he finds a man who bears the Christian name and manifests the Christian spirit, he loves him. And this, more and more as the millennium draws near, will be the special badge of the professed children of God. Christians will love their own denominations less than they love the spirit and temper of the Christian, wherever it may be found. 36-38. Peter said—seeing plainly in these directions how to behave themselves, that He was indeed going from them.

Lord, whither guest thou?—having hardly a glimmer of the real truth.

Jesus answered, … thou canst not follow me now, but thou shalt follow me afterwards—How different from what He said to the Jews: "Whither I go ye cannot come" (Joh 8:21).

Peter yet understood not his Lord and Master, and therefore asked him whither he went? Our Saviour spake of his ascension into heaven, after his suffering death upon the cross; whither he tells Peter he could not at present follow him, but afterwards should. Believers shall be ever with the Lord, but they must wait the Lord’s time, and first finish the work which he hath given them to do upon the earth. Simon Peter said unto him,.... One might have expected that Peter would have taken some notice of what Christ said last, about love to one another; but he passes over it, and takes no manner of notice of it; which did not arise from inattention to it, or from any dislike of it, or disaffection to it; for it appears from his whole conduct and writings, that he had the utmost regard for it; he very frequently presses it, and most fervently practised it; but having observed some words which dropped from Christ's lips, "whither I go ye cannot come", John 13:33; his mind was intent upon them, was uneasy about them, and very much wanted to know the meaning of them; and as soon as Christ had done speaking, took the opportunity to put the question:

Lord, whither goest thou? imagining he was going to some distant place in the country, and which was difficult of access; whereby he betrayed his weakness and ignorance, as the Jews did, John 6:25.

Jesus answered him, whither I go thou canst not follow me now; which words imply, that Christ was going somewhere in a little time; he was going to the garden to surrender himself up into the hands of his enemies, and hither Peter could, and did follow him, and therefore is not here meant; he was going to die for his people, in order to take away the sting of death and the curse of the law, and work out salvation for them; he was going to his Father in heaven, to receive gifts for men, and to send the Comforter; to open the way to heaven, take possession of it, and prepare it for his saints; to plead the cause, and transact the business of his dear children; and to receive a kingdom for himself, and return: now hither, as yet, Peter could not follow him; for his time of suffering death was not yet come; Christ had some other work for him to do first; he must open the door of faith to the Gentiles, and preach the Gospel to them:

but thou shall follow me afterwards; when thy time is come, and thou hast done the work allotted for thee, thou shalt follow me by dying for me; and thou shall follow me into my kingdom and glory, and be for ever with me: all the saints shall follow Christ to heaven, who is their forerunner for them entered; and as sure as he is there, so sure shall they be also; the counsels of God are unalterable, the covenant of grace is firm and sure, the blood of Christ can never be spilled in vain, his prayers and preparations cannot be fruitless, nor the work of the Spirit be ever lost; wherefore not one of those who are given to Christ, and come to him, and follow him here, but shall follow him hereafter.

{5} Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.

(5) A weighty example of rash trust and confidence.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 13:36-38. The words spoken in John 13:33 are still in Peter’s mind; he has not understood them, but can the less therefore get quit of them, and hence asks: ποῦ ὑπάγεις; Jesus does not directly answer this, but points him to the personal experience of a later future, in which he (on the way to a martyr’s death) will follow after Him (comp. John 21:18-19), which at present is not possible. The latter statement surprises the fiery disciple, since he already feels that he is ready to sacrifice his very life for Him. Jesus then quenches this fire, John 13:38. οὐ δύνασαι] not meant of moral ability (against Tholuck, Hengstenberg), as Peter took it, but of objective possibility as in John 13:33. The disciple also has “his hour,” and Peter had first a great calling before him, John 21:15 ff.; Matthew 16:18.

τ. ψυχ. θήσω] See on John 10:11. In the zeal of love he mistakes the measure of his moral strength.

On the discrepancy, that Matthew and Mark place the prediction of the denial on the way to Gethsemane (Luke 22:23 agrees substantially with John), see on Luke 22:31. The declaration of John 13:38 itself is certainly more original in John and Matthew 26:34, Luke 22:34 (without δίς), than in Mark 14:30.

NOTE.

The question, to what place in John’s narrative the celebration of the Supper belongs, is not to be more precisely determined on the ground of Matthew 26:23-25 (against Luke 22:21), than that the Supper finds its place, not before the departure of Judas,[137] consequently first after John 13:30. Nothing more definite can be said (Paulus, B. Crusius, Kahnis, place it immediately after. John 13:30, against which, however, is the reading οὖν before ἘΞῆΛΘΕ in John 13:30; Lücke, Maier, and several others, between John 13:33-34, opposed to which is the question of Peter, John 13:36, which looks back to John 13:33; Neander, Ammon, and Ebrard, after John 13:32; Tholuck, in John 13:34; Lange, indeed, says: the ἘΝΤΟΛῊ ΚΑΙΝΉ, John 13:34, is the ordainment of the Supper itself; Olshausen, after John 13:38), since the entire arrangement of John in these chapters leaves the Supper completely out of consideration, and, what is to be particularly noted here in John 13:30; John 14:1 ff., is so inseparably connected together, that, in reality, there remains nowhere in his representation an opening for its insertion. This betrays, indeed, the free concatenation of the discourses on the part of John, but not his non-acquaintance with the institution (Strauss), and cannot justify the extreme assumptions, that it is to be placed, in spite of the periodic-structure of John 13:1-4, already before the feet-washing (Sieffert, Godet), or first after John 14:31 (Kern). So also Bengel, Wichelhaus, and Röpe, in so far as they make Jesus, in John 14:31, to be setting out for the Paschal Supper to Jerusalem. See on John 14:31. According to Schenkel, the feet-washing does not fall within the last hours of Jesus, but at an earlier period, whereby, of course, all difficulty would be removed.

[137] That Judas did not join in celebrating the Supper (Beza and several others), has been recently (also by Kahnis, not by Hofmann and Hengstenberg, who places the celebration before ἐξῆλθεν, ver. 30) almost universally recognised, although formerly (even already in the Fathers) the opposite view preponderated, and, owing to a dogmatic interest, was supported in the Lutheran Church against the Reformed, on account of the participation of the unworthy. See Wichelhaus, Komm. zur Leidensgesch. p. 256 f. In quite a different interest has Schenkel maintained that Jesus did not exclude the traitor from the solemnity; that He, in fact, desired thereby to remove even the pretext “for its again being made an ordinance,” and that without preparation or antecedent confession He granted an unconditional freedom of participation.John 13:36. On this announcement of Jesus that He was shortly to leave them follow four characteristic utterances of the disciples. First as usual, λέγει αὐτῷ Σίμων Πέτρος, Κύριε ποῦ ὑπάγεις; “Lord, where are you going?” referring to John 13:33. The Vulgate renders “Domine, quo vadis?” the words which the legend ascribes to Peter when withdrawing from persecution in Rome he met Jesus entering the city. Jesus does not needlessly excite them by plainly telling them of His death, for He has much to say to them which He wishes them to listen to undisturbed. He assures Peter that though he cannot now accompany his Master, he will afterwards follow, and so rejoin Him; cf. John 21:19.36. Lord, whither goest thou?] The affectionate Apostle is absorbed by the declaration ‘Whither I go, ye cannot come,’ and he lets all the rest pass. His Master is going away out of his reach; he must know the meaning of that.

thou shalt follow me afterwards] Alluding probably not merely to the Apostle’s death, but also to the manner of it: comp. John 21:18-19. But his hour has not yet come; he has a great mission to fulfil first (Matthew 16:18). The beautiful story of the Domine, quo vadis? should be remembered in connexion with this verse. See Introduction to the Epistles of S. Peter, p. 56.John 13:36. [342] ΠΈΤΡΟς, Peter) Peter speaks in this place, then Thomas, then Philip, then Judas, ch. John 14:5; John 14:8; John 14:22, then all the disciples, ch. John 16:29. [Those very interlocutory speeches, noted down in ch, 14., seem to imply that Peter and John had not returned, and that the paschal lamb had not yet been got ready. And though this be so, John had no less power to describe the speeches (subjects) contained in that chapter, than had Luke those in his ch. Luke 1., etc. Would any one readily venture to describe those speeches, even though he had heard or read them a hundred times? It (the power) was divinely given to the sacred winters. But if you are of opinion, that the discourse which meets us in ch. 14. was delivered before that Peter and John had departed into the city, no doubt the series of the remaining parts of the narrative is not disarranged thereby: however, the rest of the discourse, on this supposition, will have to be separated from the short clause, Arise, etc., ch. John 14:31.—Harm., p. 506, etc.]—ποῦ, whither) John 13:33, “Ye shall seek Me; as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.” Peter was asking the question, as one who was supposing that he could follow the Lord. The heart of Peter had clung close to Jesus: ch. John 6:68, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life;” John 21:7, “When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, and did cast himself into the sea.”—ἀπεκρίθη, answered) To the question whither, He answers, after an interval, ch. John 14:2, “In My Father’s house, etc., I go to prepare a place for you,” etc., 12, “I go unto My Father,” 28, John 16:5, “Now I go My way to Him that sent Me.”—οὐ δύνασαι, thou canst not) Neither did the circumstances admit of it, nor the weakness of Peter; but Peter has regard to this latter alone in his objection in reply. Peter did ‘follow,’ ch. John 18:15 [at Jesus’ apprehension], but it was “afar off” [Matthew 26:58], and not without loss to himself.—ἀκολουθήσεις, thou shalt follow) ch. John 21:19; John 21:22, “This (as to “another girding him”) spake Jesus, signifying by what death Peter should glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He saith unto Him, Follow Me.”—“If I will that he (John) tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou Me.”

[342] ἐν ἀλλήλοις, among yourselves, one toward the other) Men of the world love one another mutually, ch. John 15:19, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own.” The disciples of Christ much more love mutually and are beloved. The men of the world account the disciples of Christ as an object of hatred: therefore he who cherishes love towards the latter, is himself a disciple.—V. g.Verse 36-John 14:4. -

(3) The question of Simon Peter, with the terrible response and bitter grief of the entire group, followed by the consoling promise.
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