Sermon #1041           Miscellaneous Sermons                                                   


          Title:       “WHAT IS THAT TO THEE?”

          Text:       John 21:22

          Scripture Reading: John 21:1-25; Ps. 80:1-3

          Subject:  Obedience To Christ

          Date:       Sunday Morning – August 23, 1992




I read the other day about a preacher who wanted to encourage his people to order their lives by the Word of God. In the course of his message, he said, “I would like to pass a Reform Act. If everybody would reform one person then all would be reformed.” His intention was that every person should reform himself. When the service was over, one of the men in the congregation met him at the door, and said, “That was such a good sermon. I’m going right home to start reforming my wife!”


That is a pretty good indication of the way most of us think and the way most of us hear sermons. We find it very easy to hear for someone else, to think for someone else, and to apply the message to someone else. That’s exactly what happened in John 21.

·       The Lord Jesus had just restored Peter from his terrible fall (vv. 15-17).

·       He told Peter how he would, in the end, glorify God as a martyr (vv. 18-19).

·       The he commanded Peter, saying, “Follow Me!” (v. 19).


But Peter seems to have paid no attention to the Lord’s words. They seem to have gone in one ear and out the other. Turning around, he saw John and said, “Lord, and what shall this man do?” (vv. 20-21). The Lord said to Peter, what I do with John and what John does for me is none of your business. You follow me. That is your only concern. Is that how you read verse 22?


Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me!”


Proposition:  It is not our responsibility to seek, or to judge, what the will of God is for others; but to follow Christ ourselves.


Divisions:  I take the words of our Lord for the title of my message – “What Is That To Thee?” Here are four things revealed in our text.


1.          We are all prone to neglect, ignore, or at least quickly forget God’s message to us.

2.          Our primary responsibility in life is obedience to Christ.

3.          If we follow Christ there are a good many things we must leave alone.

4.          There are many reasons why we must confine ourselves to the business of following Christ.


I.  We are all Prone to Ignore, Neglect, or at least Quickly Forget God’s Message to Us.


Most of us talk to much and listen too little, even in the house of God (Eccles 5:1-3; James 1:19-21). The fact is, our hearts and minds are so naturally adverse to God’s Word that we would not hear it and profit from it even if the Lord Jesus Christ himself were the preacher, unless the Spirit of God blessed the Word preached to our hearts.


Was not Christ the Preacher here? He said to Peter, “Follow me.” (v. 19). But Peter paid no more attention to those two words than he did to the sand beneath his feet. He ignored what the Lord said to him and asked about John! Then the Lord spoke a bit former, saying, “Follow thou me!” (v. 22).


Realizing our terrible aversion to the Word of God and to all things spiritual, let us take great care to hear the Word of God, to hear what God has to say to us.


Illustration: If the Lord speaks, I sure do want to hear him!”

·       Prepare Yourself to Hear the Gospel.

·       Receive the Word with the Meekness of Faith.

·       Seek to Retain the Word.


I am fearful that we often lose the benefit of gospel preaching through the common habit of idle chit-chat about nothing after the message has been preached. After hearing the gospel, it might be much more helpful if we talked to one another about the message, rather than about community events, or the latest news.


NOTE: With our conference coming up, be sure to speak to God’s messenger about the message he brings.


II.  Our Primary Responsibility in Life is Obedience to Christ.


We all have many responsibilities, many cares, many things to occupy our time and attention. We are all so busy about so many things. But our primary responsibility, the matter of first importance, the matter of constant concern is and must be obedience to Christ. Mr. Spurgeon was right when he said, “We live in vain if we do not live unto God.”


A.  Let me address myself to you who are yet without Christ.


What a pitiful description that is of you. You are “without Christ.” That means that you are without life, without righteousness, without God, without hope, without peace.


1.     The Wrath of God is upon you!

2.     You are an enemy of God!

3.     The leprosy of sin is in your heart!

4.     Hell awaits you!

5.     I urge you now to follow the command of Christ (Isa. 45:22; II Cor. 5:20-6:2).


B.  However, our text is addressed to a man who was a genuine believer.


This is the Master’s word to all his disciples – “Follow thou me!” The believer’s life is a life of obedience to Christ, a life of consecration to him (Luke 14:25-33).


Illustration: Ignatius – “Now I begin to be a Christian!”

Mehdi Dibaj – Imprisoned in Iran since 1984 for preaching the gospel wrote to his son on his 17th birthday – “The plan that God implemented for Daniel’s friends (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) teaches us this great lesson…that if we want to walk close to Jesus the Son of God, we must go into the fire because it is the safest place for us! Not only will our sacks not burn, our clothes will not smell of fine! I praise God that during these seven years, the Lord Jesus Christ has been my strength in such a way that not only do I walk close to him in the midst of fire, but I go forward as well!”


1.  Follow Christ in the course of your life. Mold your character after the character of the Son of God (John 13:15; Phil. 2:5; I Peter 2:21).

·       Self-Denying Consecration to the Will of God.

·       Self-Abasing Service to the People of God.

·       Self-Sacrificing Love to God and his People.


2.  Make this the business of your life – “Follow thou me!” (I Cor. 4:20-23).


The business of your life is to serve Christ!


III.  If we Follow Christ there are a Good Many Things we Must Leave Alone.


The Lord commanded Peter to follow him; but Peter could not and would not obey the command as long as he concerned himself with what John would do. Therefore when he asked, “What shall this man do?” The Lord Jesus said, “What is that to thee? Follow thou me!” In other words, he said, Peter what John does is none of your concern. You follow me!


A.  We must not concern ourselves with how other believers serve their Master (Rom. 14:1-4).


1.     We must not be censorious of one another.

2.     We must not seek to control one another.

3.     We have no concern about what others do for Christ except to help them, encourage them, and pray for them.


B.  We must not sit in judgment over or seek to manipulate and control other faithful congregations and gospel preachers.


Christ still walks in the midst of his churches. He holds each of his servants in his right hand – (Rev. 1:20). Our brethren do not need to be controlled by us, only comforted. They don’t need to be ruled by us, only remembered. We are not to examine them, but encourage them. We will have enough to do to weed our own garden, water our own plants, and fulfil our own calling – ( Matt. 7:1-5).

          Illustration: B. Cox – “What do you think about a person who…?”


C.  This same principle applies to many theological questions – “What is that to thee?”


1.     The Origin of Evil

If a thief breaks into my house, I am not too interested in how he got in. I just want to get him out.


2.     Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

The Word of God teaches us these two things:

·       Salvation is altogether by the grace of God.

·       Damnation is altogether the result of man’s sin.


God chose in Christ and predestinated the salvation of an elect multitude before the world began.

Whosoever believeth on Christ shall be saved.

God alone will have all the glory of salvation.

Man alone will bear the blame of condemnation.


3.     The Mysteries of Prophecy

·       Christ will come again.

·       There will be a resurrection of the dead.

·       There will be a day of judgment.

·       You and I will spend eternity somewhere, either in heaven or in hell.

·       These things are revealed. Dates, times, and signs are all matters of speculation and are of no value.


Our business is to follow Christ! (Titus 2:10-14).


IV.  There are a Good Many Reasons Why we Must Confine Ourselves To The Business of Following Christ.


Let me just give you these reasons for devoting your life to this one great business.


A.  Our Abilities are Limited.


I am not a man of great strength and ability. Being a man of limited ability. I want to devote what powers I have to my Master’s service.

·       Preaching the Gospel.

·       Ministering to the Needs of People.


B.  Our Time is Limited (I Cor. 7:29-31).


When my time has come to leave this world, I would sure like to leave with no more regrets than I already have – I would like to be able to die like Paul (II Tim. 4:6-8).


C.  Multitudes are Perishing!


I am astonished that we can call ourselves followers of Christ and be so very little consumed with the needs of eternity bound sinners!




1.          A immortal soul, lost under the wrath of God, hovering over hell, kept from the pit only by a breath of air – Come to Christ!

2.          As the Lord Jesus had something for Peter to do and something for John to do for the glory of God, I wonder what he has for us to do as a church for the glory of God.


You are free men and women. I make no attempt to control your lives. But I do want everyone of us to live to serve Christ by serving the souls of men and women.

·       Tracts to Be Distributed.

·       Tapes to Be Given.

·       Bulletins to Be Mailed.

Illustration: Ferrell and the boy in Kenya. The man in India.

·       Homes to Be Visited.