Matthew 26:58 - And Peter was following Him (Jesus) at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.
Christians all over the world are now living in the post-Lent and the post-Easter season. As we bask in the afterglow drama of Lent and in the new life excitement of the Easter resurrection, it is easy and convenient to forget those days which lead up to and directly involve the crucifixion of our Lord. These tumultuous times produce a roller coaster of emotions for Christ's closest followers. This was also a time when the devil did his very best to get Christ's disciples to turn away from their Savior. In one situation, with Judas, Satan was tragically successful. And, where clear victory was impossible, Satan tried his utmost to have Christ's disciples follow Jesus not closely, but "at a distance."
For example, when Jesus was in the hands of His enemies and was enduring the events surrounding His crucifixion, Matthew records that "Peter was following Jesus at a distance" (Matthew 26:58). Peter did not want to get too involved; you see. After all, Peter realized what was happening to Jesus his Master, could very easily happen to him, also. Mark and Luke also mention this incident (Mark 14:54; Luke 22:54 respectively).
Oh, how easy it is to be critical of Peter. But instead of pointing the finger of accusation, we need to examine our own attitude toward Jesus. Standing up for Christ, hungering for His Words, and desiring to read His Gospel promises daily are not things that come naturally. There is an old Proverb that says, "Eating creates an appetite." This is what happens when you start studying God's Word. In your eating or studying of God's living Word, the Holy Spirit will increase your love for the Lord and for His life-giving Word.
Jesus does not want you to follow Him at a distance. He wants you near Him, so He can love you. Follow Christ closely. He is inviting you. "My sheep hear My voice," Jesus says, "and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand" (John 10:27-29).
So, say no to the temptations of this world. Let the love of Christ draw you to Himself. Follow the Lord closely. Feed on His Word. Embrace His mercy and forgiveness.
THE PRAYER: O Lord we pray, grant unto all who hear Your Word today the courage not to be ashamed of You. Enable us to hear You more clearly, to feed from You more freely, and follow You not at a distance but more closely. In Jesus' powerful Name we pray. Amen.
From "Following Jesus at a Distance," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Wallace Schulz, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
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