In the closing verses of John, Jesus foretold the nature of the death of
Peter. He reminded Peter of that time when he was young and could dress
himself and was free to go wherever he wanted. He then said, “But when you
are old another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”
The Holy Spirit then adds these comments, “This He said to show by what
kind of death he was to glorify God” (John 21:18-19). Tradition says that
Peter was crucified, but, at his request, he was crucified upside down for he
did not feel worthy to die like Jesus.
We are not sure of the details of Peter’s death, but we do have his writings
shortly before he died. “Knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as
the Lord Jesus Christ showed me” (2 Pet. 1:14). They show us how he used
the short time he had.
Note how Peter regarded his own body. It was just a tent. It was not his
eternal dwelling. Some who pay so much attention to keeping the body fit
and healthy, getting proper exercise and eating the proper food, fail to realize
that while bodily exercise profits, godliness is “…profitable for all things,
having promise for the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Tim.
4:8). Paul speaks of how in this tent we groan, earnestly desiring to be
clothed in heavenly garments (2 Cor. 5:1-2). We must never forget that our
body is simply a tent which we lay aside in death.
With death approaching, what was Peter doing with the time he had left?
He was spending time with those who already knew truth and was not
negligent in reminding the saved of these matters, so that they could continue
to be established in the truth they already knew (2 Pet. 1:12).
He was spending time “as long as I am in this tent” to always remind
them and to stir them up by that reminding (2 Pet. 1:12-13). There is a grave
danger in the lives of Christians today of a vital truth. As they mature, they
reach a point when they think they no longer need Sunday Bible classes,
Sunday evening service and Wednesday classes. Failure to continue to study
the Bible or to think we already know it is so dangerous. Peter knew the
Christians to whom he was writing already knew what he was telling them,
but he also knew that hearing truths again and again strengthens us.
Peter saw that how he spent his life would impact the lives of those after
he brought glory to God in how he died. “I will be careful to ensure that you
always have a reminder of these things after my decease” (2 Pet. 1:15). In
death we leave behind a treasure of eternal truth that will remind others.
Think about it. What are you doing “as long as you are in this tent”?
Dan Jenkins, Palm Beach Lakes Church of Christ