I can't get Peter out of my brain and I have all these little thoughts about why He might follow at a distance (Luke 22.54). And then I wonder about how that might present itself in my life, in my family's life, in the life of those I love and those I pastor.
Peter, on the way to Jesus' trial, followed at a distance and then ended up denying Him three times, just as Jesus predicted he would.
I wonder if Peter was scared.
Was he scared that if he followed too closely it might cost him his own life? He had heard Jesus talk about people taking up their crosses - for Peter, I bet that didn't seem metaphorical like it does for the comfortable West. He had heard Jesus talk about persecution coming to the students like it does to the teacher. Sometimes I think dying is gain...as long as I'm not the one doing the dying.
Was he scared of the rebuke of Jesus regarding Malchus' ear? If you don't remember the story, Peter had taken a sword and tried to put Mal on one side and Chus on the other. Maybe it was his swordsmanship or maybe it was that Malchus was quick, but he only got his ear, which Jesus quickly repaired. How closely do you want to get to the guy who just undid what you did? In case you forgot, He's also the one who told Peter that he was acting like a temporal-minded goofball and "get behind Me, Satan." Just how close do I want to be to the God who confronts me like that?
Was he scared of Christ's predictive promise of his denial of Christ? Some of the promises God gives us are tremendous and sweet and wonderful. Some are not. Need an example of the latter? "In this world you will have tribulation..." (John 16.33). That's as much a promise as, "I will be with you always, even to the end of the ages" (Matthew 28.20). But that particular promise in John doesn't make coffee cups or crafty ideas on Pinterest.
Was he scared because he thought maybe he had bet on the wrong horse? Jesus seemed to be losing after doing nothing but winning. Turn tables over in the Temple - check. Call out the Pharisees in outstanding ways and in memorable language - check. Challenge the governing authorities - check. Drop serious spiritual Truth - check. Authenticate all of it with miracles - check. Do it all without Twitter - check. But now on trial? Losing in a big way? Just who did Peter throw his lot in with? And in case Peter needs company, I just might have, once or twice, thrown some sideways glances up toward heaven accompanied by a big fat question mark of whether or not He knows what He's doing. You probably haven't, but I have. Once or twice. As a corollary, sometimes I'm just scared because I don't know how it's going to turn out.
Any of those ring true with you? Any of those things keep you safely at a distance from dangerous Jesus?