18 In all sincerity I tell you that when you were young you dressed yourself and walked where you wanted, but when you get old you will stretch out your hand and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
19 Now He said this to show what kind of death he would glorify God. Having said this He said (says) to him: “Follow Me”.
It is sometimes said that old age does not come alone. The meaning being that the older we get the more likely it is that we will be accompanied by certain ailments and restrictions that are associated with old age.
Such a saying is not born from faith in Jesus, but faith in human frailty. Basically if we expect to be afflicted with various ailments we are likely to receive them.
Jesus told Peter that he had been, and still was free to do as he pleased. This would have been true in his life. He had lived the life of a fisherman, probably working for himself, or with his brother, Andrew. It may be that he did as he pleased; being his own boss and having the freedom to choose when to work etc.
However, Jesus told him that the days were coming when he would not be free to do as he liked. Was Jesus talking about the restrictions of old age? It seems not, since the following verse makes it clear that Jesus was talking about the way in which Peter was going to die.
Peter died during the reign of the Emperor Nero, which was during the AD 60’s.
At that time Peter may have been aged between 50 to 65; we do not know. He was not a really old man, although he was not young.
the words ‘stretch out your hand’ was apparently used by Greek authors and early church fathers to indicate crucifixion. The words :’and will dress you’ could refers to Peter having his arms raised so that he could be bound by rope so that he could be tied to a cross.
The manner of his death was by crucifixion. Eusebius (church historian) wrote:
‘But Peter seems to have preached in Pontus and Galatia and Bythinia and Cappadocia and Asia, to the Jews of the Dispersion, and at last, having come to Rome, he was crucified head downward, for so he himself had asked to suffer’.
From the moment that Jesus spoke these words Peter knew that his earthly life would come to an end through a violent death. This was what it meant for him to be a pastor of the flock of Jesus.