Did you know that Proctor and Gamble supports the Church of Satan? Well actually, they don’t. Yet here we are, four decades down the road with tens of millions of us still familiar with that rumor which began sometime around 1980.
In Jesus’ final conversation with the disciples as recorded by John, Jesus shined a bright light on Peter relative to his denial of the Lord on the night in which he was betrayed. Some remember this as the “Feed my sheep” episode.
Feeling the intensity of Jesus’ interrogation, Peter attempted to turn attention away from himself to someone else, anyone else. That person happened to be John. Of him, Peter asked, “But Lord, what about this man?” To which the Lord replied, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”
From this word, a rumor went out that John would not die, but that is not what Jesus said. And some fifty (or more) years later, John was still trying to squelch that rumor. Why else would he write about it if it were not still being told?
And where did this rumor start? It’s not hard to find the source. The context of this discussion begins in verse one of our chapter. Who is present in this exchange? Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John (“the sons of Zebedee”), and two other unknown disciples. That’s it.
Since it’s not likely that Peter or John started this, the number shrinks even more. But that’s not the most relevant point. The point is that even good people can say things with integrity of heart that are simply not true.
How many good people, in their fervent desire to oppose the occult, passed along false information about Proctor and Gamble? In today’s Internet-driven society, how many pass along email or social media posts containing urban legends, fake news, or downright lies without a moment’s thought or investigation?
Getting back to the rumor about John… Why would anyone, much less a discipline (in this case likely an apostle), tell that? What good would it serve? What contribution to the cause of Christ?
Let’s be careful to listen carefully, thoughtfully, and discerningly so as not to start or give wings to rumors.