John 21:18-19 I tell you the solemn truth, when you were young, you tied your clothes around you and went wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will tie you up and bring you where you do not want to go.” (Now Jesus said this to indicate clearly by what kind of death Peter was going to glorify God.) After he said this, Jesus told Peter, “Follow~~ me.”
Peter was on an emotional roller coaster. Having denied the Lord three times, he had to openly confess his loyalty to Christ three times. Finally, he was told he would live to an old age and be led by others to “stretch out [his] hands, and others will tie [him] up and bring [him] where [he] do[es] not want to go,” which is an early proverbial description of aspects of the crucifixion. Tertullian (AD 212) described Peter’s crucifixion fulfilling this prophecy.
Peter never forgot this prophecy, referring to it in his Second Epistle, when he spoke about his imminent death (2 Pet 1:14). History shows he was crucified in Rome under Nero around AD 65–67 (cf. 1 Clement 5:4; 6:1; Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History, 2.25).
John adds the parenthetical commentary reflecting their understanding of Jesus’s prophecy about Peter, declaring this was “to indicate clearly by what kind of death Peter was going to glorify God.” How would you like to know thirty years in advance that you were going to be crucified at the end of your life?
How ironic: Peter denied he even knew Jesus because of his fear of being crucified. Now he is told that he will be crucified as well! He had his whole life to think about how he would “glorify God” in his inevitable death (1 Pet 4:16). Tradition says he wanted to be crucified upside down.
Now Jesus gives His final command to Peter: “Continuously be following me.” By these words, Jesus is starting all over again with Peter. Three years earlier, near the Sea of Galilee, where they now were standing, Jesus had said to Peter, “Follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19).
Impulsive Peter had been singled out of all the disciples for crucifixion, so he looked at John and then asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” (Jn 21:21). Jesus sharply rebuked Peter for wondering if the same fate awaited his friend John: “If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours? You follow me!” (21:22). Are you influenced by how others succeed or have it easier than you have it?
“What would it have been like to hear You say to me, “Follow me”? Would it be any different than reading it in Your word? I’ll take it that You are saying the same words to me today and follow You however You command.”