Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”
Peter heard the call of Jesus and acted on it immediately.(Matthew 4:19) But his actions were from an interest to see and know Jesus. His actions and his thinking had to become synchronized with the Lord. His following Jesus was from a natural desire to be where Jesus was, which was a good thing. However as Peter and Jesus spent time together one can clearly see that Peter made made decisions that were not aligned with Jesus’ agenda. Peter vacillated often between glorious revelation and inglorious confusion over the way of life in Jesus’ Kingdom (Matthew 16:16, Matthew 16:23). It would take spending time together and ultimately seeing Christ die to better understand the mindset of Jesus and what following Him really entailed.
After Peter denied Jesus 3 times he was restored by Jesus Who once again told him to follow (John 21:19). At that time Peter followed Jesus in a completely different way with a different empowerment (John 20:22).Now Peter was going to follow His Lord to places he had never imagined. These are the places we can only go because of Holy Spirit’s empowerment and guidance. Peter had encounters with Jesus before he had Holy Spirit, but now with Holy Spirit He was able to act, think, and serve like Christ. Encounters are different than empowerment: one happens without while the other is most certainly within.
The Lord is always calling us to a greater followership. He is always beckoning us deeper in our walk with Him, in a way that requires Holy Spirit to enable us. God wants us to walk with Him into a future that He has where we rely solely on Him to accomplish it. Self empowerment will never achieve Jesus’ call only self-denial. We must choose who we will deny: self or Christ.