“They took Jesus to the high priest…Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.” Mark 14:53-54
What a short number of steps from following our Savior to walking with his enemies!
Just hours before Peter had been close to Jesus. Close enough to be invited to Jesus’ final prayer vigil (which Peter slept through.) Close enough to hear his final turmoil as He faced the toughest day of his life.
Then, when Jesus was grabbed by a mob bearing sticks and soldiers bearing arms, Peter scattered with the others. We now see Peter again, following at a safe distance. Not wanting to be identified with Jesus and staying far enough away to be “safe.”
Furthermore, to assuage suspicion, Peter took refuge from the cold cold night with the most harsh, burly, crude folk he could, the very soldiers who arrested Jesus. These would be the soldiers who, full of vice would strip him naked and plait a crown of thorns. They would spit on him and make Him the victim of coarse jesting as they made fun of his naked and bruised body. They would allow their worst torturer to flail him until the bones showed and his blood poured out like wine.
These were the men Peter was now with, as he kept his distance from the One who never left him.
But do not think Jesus did not know Peter’s presence at all times. Luke, the historian records it like this.
As Peter was cursing and swearing in denial of his association with Jesus Christ the third time, the rooster crowed. Luke says in 22:61:
“The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.”
Peter did not hide from Jesus amidst the soldiers. While Jesus was undergoing his mock trial and public censure, Jesus was also undergoing betrayal of the worst kind. You see, Peter knew the things that they were saying were not true. If Peter was in “eye -shot” he was almost surely within “ear shot.” They were calling for witnesses!
Here, Peter the bold witnessed Jesus’ trial and he witnessed his own weakness and fear. For Peter did nothing. Peter knew the blasphemy about Jesus was not true.
Jesus bore witness to himself because every human friend and disciple did not! We see not one record of one person who spoke on Jesus’ behalf.
We do not know how many followers of Christ were there, but we know of one very bold, strong, egotistical one that shrank in his moment of opportunity to boldly defend His Savior, Peter.
How about you? Do you follow at a distance? Do you hang out with the enemies of Christ in hopes that you aren’t found out? Do you attempt to fit in with them so they will not know your “dirty little secret” and risk the penalty and stigma that comes with being a Christian? Do you promise great things and then shrink when the night gets too cold to take refuge in the warmth of Christ’s enemy camp?
Later on, we see that Peter was forgiven, just as we are when we do this. We must pray and keep watch for “indeed the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”
Today, I want to follow closely my Savior. I want to identify with him, defend him (though He doesn’t need it), stand for him, and represent him well. God forbid I follow at distance as I have done too many times in my life.
“And He walks with me and He talks with me. And He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known!”