Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, 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.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:20–25)
After Jesus had restored his relationship with Peter, reassuring him that he loved him and getting Peter three times to acknowledge that he loved Jesus, Jesus had told Peter that he would someday die as a martyr on a cross. Peter’s response was to ask Jesus about the apostle John, who was following behind them.
Jesus told Peter that what John’s fate in life would be was not Peter’s concern. God has a purpose for each individual. God’s will for one man can be quite different than his will for another. In the end, according to legend, Peter was crucified upside down in Rome during the reign of the Emperor Nero. But according to tradition, John died of old age, the only one of the twelve apostles who was not martyred. After his exile on Patmos, during which he wrote the book of Revelation, John was set free and continued preaching and teaching until the day he died peacefully, surrounded by other Christians.
God works with each of us in his own separate way. We each of us have a part to play in God’s plan. Some of us may lead lives of great turmoil, pain and suffering. Others of us may live lives of grand excitement. And some of us will lead quiet, ordinary, and happy lives. No matter what sort of life God gives us, it will bring glory to him. And all of us, no matter the cup he gives us, are equally valuable.