Many Christians follow Christ but only from a distance.
Tonight, the Jews had arrested Jesus and were dragging Him to the high priest’s house. Peter followed Christ. Many people crowded Jesus and the soldiers, mocking and having fun and looking forward to another time of watching a criminal being crucified. It was easy to be a spectator, without any care in the world – the people did not know Christ personally – so they could dare to move closely without fear of the soldiers.
But not Peter. He knew Jesus, he was a follower of Him. Just this afternoon, they ate the last meal together. Last week, they still performed miracles. They cleansed and cleared the temple just some days ago. They were very bold then. But now, he knew anyone who associated with Christ in this dire moment was as good as dead. The other disciples fled, one other follower, when he was grabbed, left his linen overall and fleeing naked. They all feared for their lives. Their families and friends.
He probably loved Jesus, or wanted to get in on the action but not get into trouble. While he never wanted to be left out, he was careful for his own life. So he kept a distance – about 3 or 4 metres away.
Jesus had told them earlier “Tonight you will fall away. For when the shepherd is struck, the sheep will scatter.” He did not believe it then. He had beat his chest and said “Even if others fall away, I will not.” Now he did the exact opposite of his proclamation.
Do you deny Christ?
Jesus told peter: you will deny me – you will fall away!
And here we see Peter, following Christ from a distance. That was the first sign of denial that preceded his actual testimony in the High Priest’s courtyard: I do not know him.
Do you follow Christ from a distance? Are you taking your first steps into denial?
Peter calculated that the group advancing towards the High priest’s house would occupy about 3-4 metres. And Peter added about 3 metres more. So that gave him an allowance of 6-7 metres. Behind Jesus. Space away from Jesus. Chance to dash behind a stall if a soldier or anyone who can identify him with Jesus looks back. An advantage to run back if anyone takes up a chase.
I picture him stopping – when the mob approaches a bend – and waits behind a vegetable booth, till they round the corner. At that point, he loses sight of Jesus. Then he will run up to them, round the corner and wait again.
This he did at every twist and turn till they got to the Priest’s courtyard, where he established his denial with curses upon himself. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he blatantly lied.
That is the way it is when you follow Christ form a distance – you slow down and lose sight of Christ at every twist and turn. Your life becomes a mixture of pauses, stops and agitation all in fear of not wanting to stand with Christ in His reproach.
Peter had to catch up at every turn. Does this happen to you? Does your life have pauses and halts? Do you lose sight of your focus, purpose and direction at every turn of your life? At every decision point?
Is your Christian life a series of catching up and dropping back?
Maybe you’re following Christ from a distance.
You come to church but you don’t want to get involved in service. “It’s demanding,” you say. You are a Christian, but you don’t want your colleague at school or work to know. You love God and want to know more of him but your desire is not strong enough to push you to a place of consistent Bible study and prayer life.
You are following Christ from a distance. That is denial – and it is sin. Do not forget that though He leads you to the cross, it is a sure way to the glory.
Please catch up and stay with Jesus.