“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)
In I Cor. 10:31 Paul writes that “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The purpose of the Christian is to glorify God in EVERYTHING. And we see here that this is true even of our death!
After Jesus gives Peter a three-fold commission to care for His sheep if he loved Him, He then tells him that in his older age, he will be bound and taken where he does not want to go. Then John adds that Jesus said this to indicate “by what kind of death he would glorify God.” So not only was Peter to glorify God by his life, through his service for the people of God, but also even in his death!
And so should we. As Christians our greatest desire should not be for an “easy” death; but one which would glorify God. The old Puritans used to sit by the bedside of dying loved ones, waiting for final words of testimony of the grace of God which was carrying them “across the river” to heaven. They looked to glorify God with their final words and experiences. Have we eliminated such possibilities by our reliance upon pain- (and consciousness-) deadening drugs? Does making death “easier” also rob us of the opportunity to glorify God in our passing? Again, for the Christian the question is not what is “easy”, but what glorifies God.
Of course this applies not only in our death, but also certainly to the life we live. We are not to seek the course of least resistance in life; but that which would glorify God. We don’t have to wait until we die to apply this passage; even today, don’t merely choose the “easiest” path, but the one which glorifies God the most.
But this passage reminds us that every follower of Christ has but one main purpose: to glorify God, not only in all of life, but even in the way that we die.