Then seizing [Jesus], they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. (Lk. 22:54, NIV)
It’s easy for many of us to judge the disciples as though we (if we had been in their place) would have spoken more humbly and wisely and would have made more courageous, faith-filled choices. Peter, especially, gets a lot of flack for being impulsive, proud, and out of sync with the program. But really, would we have been any different?
In this verse, Jesus is being led to a trial that isn’t likely to turn out well. When a bunch of Roman soldiers show up for a night-time arrest, one can hardly help but think about floggings, imprisonment, or possible crucifixion. So, even though only hours earlier Peter had sworn his allegiance to Jesus, his courage falters now. Following Jesus might cost him. So he follows Jesus, but at a distance. And you know what happened next: he denied Jesus—not just once, but three times.
But can’t we empathize with Peter a little? For most of us following Jesus isn’t hard when it means a loving church community, answered prayer, purposeful work, steady income, and peaceful families. But what about when following Jesus means being misunderstood, tested, left out, disappointed, made fun of, or lumped in with a certain group of Christians you don’t respect very much? What about when following Jesus costs? Do you follow closely then? Or are you more like Peter, following at a distance?
Talk to Jesus about the way you follow Him. Do you follow through thick and thin, or just when you have time and things are going well? Is there a specific area in which it is hard to follow Him closely today? Ask Him to show you one little step you could take to move nearer to Him—then trust Him and do it.