“Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.”
Close enough to see the outcome, to quietly observe what wold happen to his dear Friend, but not so close as to taste the same death that he had committed to only hours before. Following at a distance. Here was where Peter found himself as a spectator for Jesus’ ring of horror, he himself in the inner ring of Christ’s closest friends.
He was privileged to be one of three disciples to see Jesus Christ when He unveiled His deity at the transfiguration, who had been the one invited to walk on the water with his Lord in the storm, who frankly declared Jesus to be Messiah. But even he succumbed to tiredness among the olive trees at the hour Jesus most wanted his wakeful prayers. He fled at Jesus’ arrest. Then after, bravery gave way to safe distance, a comfortable curiosity, as he made his way to see just what would happen.
I’m so glad Peter was one of the chosen. I’m so glad he failed and repented (true repentance like Eve mentioned in her post here) and showed the way back to relationship with Christ after his denial. Then, chosen to be the rock on which the church was built. Peter certainly had his peaks and valleys following Jesus (how about that “get behind me, Satan” moment, scathing!), but here in the Easter week I wonder how alike I am to Peter as he follows at a safe distance.
Not to say my life was cake, but up until it wasn’t, any of my hardship was directly tied to indisputable blessedness. Idyllic suburban upbringing, and I was a child when my husband and I fell in love and got married. New and young marriage was hard, I had some undiagnosed medical junk and plenty of sin to go around, but I married the man of my dreams years before I had expected. I had landed my dream gig as a NICU nurse before I even graduated; hardest and best work I could have asked for. Even moving to Japan was a great joy and that suffering was undergirded with purpose and clear leading. Of course it was good news that Jesus was my Lord, how could it get any better? Leaving my life in His hands made every bit of sense. Following Him was safe.
I see myself in Peter, perhaps a little more timid than to declare out loud what he was so bold to say off the cuff. Good old Peter. But no less honest in the quiet of my heart. Somewhere in the throes of my dark years, I finally whispered my quiet but wrestling question, “Is this how You would treat those who give up everything to follow You, Lord? Is this on purpose?” And He answered the most tenderly honest way with me. “Yes, My child. Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Not what I wanted to hear, but it was the deepest comfort because its true.
No conditions. No safety. No recommendations to God about what He chooses to do with my life. No provisions for following at a distance. No votes on what kind of cross I am to carry or when or how long. Following Him had cost me so much of my heart, but never, never without His promised presence.
Seasons of suffering in my life have afforded me the choice between following a Christ of my own conceiving, enjoying just the benefits but running from the adversity. Or to fly to Him, clinging for dear life to the salvation purchased for me, false expectations falling away like chaff. The abundance He promises is not in what He gives, but in who He is. He is worth following right into the refining fire.
Oh my God, please let me not follow You at any safe distance. In the crucible of suffering, please quicken my feet to follow You more closely all the days of my life.