Leviticus 9:1-11:47, 2 Samuel 6:1-7:17, Matthew 3:11-17
If disciples are supposed to commit their lives to following Yeshua, why did He tell his disciples, “Where I am going, you will not be able to come”?
Where Are You Going that We Cannot Follow?
During the festival of Sukkot, Yeshua told the authorities who were trying to arrest him, “For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me” (John 7:33). The pilgrims gathered for the festival listened in on the exchange. Some speculated that Yeshua might be going out to teach in the synagogues of the Diaspora. He corrected them, “I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come” (John 8:21). Where was he going where they could not find him? Some speculated that He might be mad and intent on committing suicide.
Six months later, at the festival of Passover, Yeshua reminded His disciples of that conversation. He told them, “You will seek me; and as I said to the Judeans, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’” (John 13:33).
The Master’s words frightened and dismayed the disciples. Simon Peter demanded to know where Yeshua intended on going that they could not follow, “Master, where are you going?” After all, the disciples had made a career out of following the Master everywhere he went. That was all that they had done for nearly three years, and they had left behind everything to do it. If they could no longer follow Him, where would they go and what would become of them?
Yeshua meant that He was soon to suffer and die. His disciples could not follow Him to martyrdom just yet, but later they would. His words also anticipated the resurrection and ascension to His Father. The disciples could not yet follow Him to the place of glory, but one day He would receive them there. The disciples at the table that night, however, did not want to understand that the Master was really going to suffer and die.
Yeshua replied, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.” With these words, He hinted about Simon Peter’s future destiny. His loyal disciple would one day follow Him to martyrdom. That night, however, Peter could not follow Yeshua, nor would He try.
Simon Peter insisted, “I will lay down my life for you.” Yeshua deflected the brash boast by turning it into a question, “Will you lay down your life for me?” (John 13:37). Simon Peter believed he would, but the Master foresaw the three denials. Peter would deny him thrice before dawn.
The conversation about Simon Peter following Yeshua to martyrdom resumed several weeks later beside the Sea of Galilee:
Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me!” (John 21:19)