What About This Man?

by Doy Moyer

This isn’t a parable, but it is a principle to be understood with multiple applications.

After Jesus resurrected and met with His disciples, He specifically talked with Peter. Three times (probably mirroring the three times Peter denied Him), Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Three times Peter said he did, and he was grieved, perhaps because it served as a sobering reminder of Peter’s failure to love Jesus (John 21:15-19). Then, after being told how he would die, Peter, seeing the disciple whom Jesus loved (presumably John), asked Jesus, “What about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:22)

We are masters at deflection. By diverting attention away from the important point being made at the moment, we lessen the significance of what is being said. “Follow Me, Peter.” “But what about him, Lord?” What about him? How does pointing to him change anything about your need to do what is right?

“Whataboutism,” as some may call it, is a logical fallacy. Red herrings divert the attention from what is at hand and in need of present attention. These tactics make it appear that we fear the issue and want to take attention away from it so that we aren’t as responsible.

Think about this principle, and the next time we are tempted to say, “yeah but what about…,” stop. We are probably about to illogically deflect the issue at hand and thereby hurt our intentions.

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