36.Lord, whither goest thou? This question is founded on that saying of Christ,
I said to the Jews, that whither I go you cannot come, so now I say to you,
From this it is evident how ignorant Peter was, who, after having been so frequently warned about Christ’ departure, was as greatly perplexed as if he had heard something new. Yet in this respect we are too like him; for we hear daily from the mouth of Christ all that is fitted for usefulness in life, and all that is necessary to be known, and, when we come to practice, we are as much astonished as apprentices to whom not a word had ever been spoken. Besides, Peter shows that he is under the influence of an immoderate desire of Christ’ bodily presence; for he reckons it absurd that, while he remains, Christ shall go elsewhere.
Whither I go. By these words Christ restrains Peter’ excessive desire. His language is concise, as becomes a Master, but immediately softens the hardness of his statement. He shows that it will only be for a time that he shall be separated from his disciples. We are taught by this passage to subject all our desires to God, that they may not go beyond their proper bounds; and if at any time they become extravagant and foolish, let us at least submit to be held in by this bridle. That we may not lose courage, let us avail ourselves of the consolation which is immediately added, when Christ promises that we shall one day be gathered to him.
But thou shalt follow me afterwards. He means that Peter is not yet ripe for bearing the cross, but, like corn still in the blade, must be formed and strengthened by the progress of time, that he may follow. We ought therefore to pray to God to carry forward to a higher degree of excellence what he has begun in us. In the meantime, we must creep, till we are able to run more swiftly. Now as Christ bears with us, while we are tender and delicate, so let us learn not to reject weak brethren, who are still very far from the goal. It is desirable, indeed, that all should run with the greatest eagerness, and we ought to encourage all to quicken their pace; but if there are any who walk more slowly, we ought to hope well concerning them, provided that they keep the road.