READ: LUKE 22:54-62
If Peter was getting ahead of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, he certainly was not in today’s scripture. Jesus had just been arrested and was led to the high priest’s house, which would lead to trial, mockery, and beatings. Luke 22:54 says something about Peter that can describe many who have a relationship with Jesus. It says, “But Peter followed at a distance.”
What caused Peter to follow Jesus at a distance? Looking at this moment, there are a few things that can be concluded. First, Peter still did not understand what was happening. Jesus prepared His disciples that He would be betrayed, suffer, die, be buried, and rise from the grave, but it was too hard to logically understand. When Peter tried to make war in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Jesus stopped it, and even healed the high priest’s servant’s ear, Peter was taken back. Here he was trying to stick up for his Leader and Teacher, but then Jesus reminded Him that He was a Savior. When it is hard to understand what God is doing, it is tempting to stay at a distance from Jesus. Peter did not fully comprehend God’s plan, so he did not stay close.
This moment was emotionally confusing. Peter was broken-hearted that Jesus was arrested. He must have wondered why anyone would want to harm Jesus. After all, Jesus loved, healed, restored, and changed lives. It seemed like the last three years were full of amazing experiences with Jesus; now everything seemed different because Jesus willingly allowed His enemies to arrest Him. Peter did not feel like things were in God’s hands. It looked like and felt like the devil was winning. So Peter feared and listened to the harassing lies from the enemy that all that was good and life-changing was coming to an end. Consequently, Peter followed at a distance.
Since Peter did not understand what God was doing in this moment, and he felt that God was not in control of the situation, he denied knowing Jesus. Peter was not walking with Jesus; he was at a distance. Since he was not following Jesus closely, he was quick to deny Jesus. When Peter feared what would happen to Jesus, he feared for his own life. His faith was rattled and things appeared to be dark and defeated. Peter did not understand or have assurance in the promise of Jesus, so as he stayed at a distance, he denied Jesus.
The result of Peter following at distance was denying and rejecting Jesus. The result of denying Jesus was that he remembered the word of God, was convicted of sin against God, and went out to weep bitterly because of guilt and shame (Luke 22:61-62).
You will always lose when you follow Jesus at a distance. When Jesus calls you to follow Him, He calls you to follow Him fully (Mark 8:34). Don’t allow misunderstanding of God’s plan and what you see in the natural to dictate whether you follow Jesus or not. Peter learned that his misunderstanding, his feelings, and seeing what seemed to be the end of the story was really the beginning of the greatest story ever to be told.
Are you following Jesus at a distance? Have you allowed misunderstanding or the storm that you may be experiencing to keep you from trusting Jesus? Has your distance caused you to start denying Jesus by not living fully for Him? The good news is that Jesus has not stopped loving you and is wanting to restore your fellowship with Him. Jesus restored Peter, and Peter never looked back (John 21:15-19). When Jesus restored Peter, He ended by saying, “Follow Me” (John 21:19).
Passionately pursue Jesus. Get closer to Him than ever before this Lenten season. And never look back again. You will never be the same.
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