(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Following Jesus is both a call and a command. This is particularly apparent here at the end of John's gospel where the apostle John chooses to end his account of the story of Jesus with a conversation between the Lord and Peter that emphasizes the discipleship inherent in the process of believing in Jesus. The last recorded words John gives us from Jesus are on following Him. In verse nineteen in response to Peter's third affirmation of love, Jesus prophesies Peter's own death, ending that prophetic statement with just two words: "Follow me." The call could be no more clear... to follow Jesus would mean Peter's own death. Peter would suffer for the sake of his Master.
Peter attempts to divert this rather uncomfortable conversation about following Jesus to death by asking about John, implying if he too would follow Jesus to death. But Jesus simply refuses to make John the focus. Instead He keeps Peter focused on His call to lead His sheep while following the Master. And by so doing Jesus ends with a reiteration of the seriousness of the call to discipleship with a three word command: "You follow me!" (John 21:22)
When I see the beauty and the power of my Savior Jesus, and in the brevity of two and three word statements from Him I feel the call upon my my own heart to follow Him, I must believe. His grace saves me and brings new life and I willingly say "Yes, Lord" to His call to be His follower.
Yet Jesus Himself warned to "count the cost" and when I find rejection from some and ridicule by others in this world for following Jesus, I am tempted, like Peter at Jesus' trial, to hide my allegiance to Jesus in order to fit in. And here (just like Peter) is where I need the stern command again: "You... follow Me!" And somewhere in the tension of the sweet call and the sobering command of discipleship is where I live my life day to day as a follower of Jesus.